by Richard David Smith III
It was a bittersweet day at EverBank Field this past Sunday against Tennessee. The game saw the Jaguars blow a 16-6 lead and fall to the Titans 20-16. Over the past few months, the Jaguars have become adequate at building leads early; now they just have to figure out how to hold on to said leads. QB Chad “Less Bad” Henne once again threw a devastating interception at a key moment at the end of the game and most Jaguars fans will be happy to know that this game probably marks the last time they will have to tolerate Henne mucking up the works. Henne is simply not getting it done when it matters and, while he is indeed an adequate back-up, the Jaguars would be foolish not look in another direction for a starter in the off-season via draft or free agency.
The final outcome of the game was almost an afterthought, though, as the day belonged to proverbial ‘grizzled veteran’ Brad Meester, affectionately called “old man” by some of his teammates. The Jaguars center announced the previous Wednesday that this was to be his final game at home and that he would be retiring at season’s end. Meester will be retiring after 14 years as a Jaguar and was the last link to the Jaguars once proud past. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch even designed an offensive play especially for him…as a receiver. In the first quarter, while the Jaguars were in the red zone, Meester reported as an eligible receiver, moved from center to tight end, and caught a screen pass that he took for 9 yards to the tune of an uproarious crowd–some even suggest it was the loudest they’d ever heard Jaguars fans cheer for something. That play gained a first down for the Jags and preceded Henne’s touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis (who has now caught a TD in four consecutive games).
“The thing that ran through my head was `Don’t drop the ball,” Meester said. “I knew I would catch a lot of flak if I got open one time in my life and I dropped the ball. That was the one thing I was focusing on is catching it. I caught it, got a few yards, would have loved to have scored. That’s something I will always remember.”
Meester, who started his first 48 games at guard before moving back to his natural position at center, was selected in the 2nd round in 2000 out of Northern Iowa and holds every Jaguars record for service: seasons (14), games played (207), games started (207), and consecutive starts (92, 9/03/2000-12/04/2005). 14 seasons at any pro level is remarkable, but 14 seasons in the NFL trenches at the grueling center position with as little injury issues as he’s had is damn near miraculous. It seems to me like someone is headed straight for the Pride of the Jaguars.
Next Up: The Jaguars head to Indianapolis to take on the Colts, who come off of an impressive 23-7 drubbing of the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead in a match-up that was a likely playoff preview. The Jaguars would be hard pressed to win this one, particularly with the Colts fighting for a 2nd or 3rd seed. As for the Jaguars bumpy road over the last few games, Coach Gus Bradley offered this to his team going forward, “Sometimes, I told them, you can’t climb a smooth mountain. There’s going to be roughness on the journey, and we need those spots to learn from.”
Jaguars vs. Titans Recap
by Richard David Smith III