Just can’t believe the hype for Mojo and the Jags

July 4, 2009

This past week the NFL has begun pumping up the upcoming 2009 season and one of their questions for fantasy owners was whether Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte should be ranked as the No. 2 back over Jaguars back Maurice Jones-Drew.

While Drew was ultimately placed No. 3 on the list the NFL has this to say about Jones-Drew: “Fantasy owners looking for a breakout season should look no further than Jones-Drew.” Of course this assertion is based on the fact that Jones-Drew is slated to be the main workhorse on the team now that Fred Taylor is in New England.

Hate to sound like a broken record on this but this hype for Jones-Drew hype is flat out wrong. He could prove me totally wrong but until the 5 foot 7 Jones-Drew averages more than 12 carries a game it is just hard for me to believe that he can hold up to the week-in and week-out grind.

As I have noted previously, his rushing total was actually HIGHER in 2006 than it was last year. Granted the Jags offensive line was in bad shape last year but it defies logic to think as the NFL fantasy gurus do that Jones-Drew is suddenly going to bust out for a 1,100 yard, 13 touchdown season. If anything one could argue that his touchdown total will actually go down if the team relies more heavily on fullback Greg Jones who was hurt last year.

Then there’s the nagging question of the productivity of the entire Jags offense heading into 2009. Part of the blame for that is due to the O-line injuries and the lack of a decent wideout. A motivated Torry Holt signed with the team in April but can David Garrard really help the 33-year-old receiver reclaim some of his old glory?

The Jags already play in one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. It’s hard to imagine that this team has enough firepower to compete with Indy, Tennessee and now a surging Houston Texans squad that won five of its last six games.

The last time Coach Jack Del Rio was on the hotseat he made the bold decision to bench Byron Leftwich and go with Garrard. I just don’t know what other magic trick Del Rio has left to turn this team into a solid contender. And if Mojo isn’t the answer then it’s going to be an even more dismal season.

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Make-or-break time for Jaguars and Del Rio

November 13, 2008
Sports Addict Gary Fineout

Sports Addict Gary Fineout

Heading into last week’s game with the Detroit Lions, there was some hand-wringing about whether or not it was a make-or-break game for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Translation: It will look really, really bad if the Jags lose to a winless team.

But in my mind the future of the Jaguars franchise – and the future of head coach Jack Del Rio – will be decided this weekend when the undefeated Tennessee Titans roll into town. That’s because this season will rapidly roll down hill if the Jags can’t find a way to knock off the Titans. Jacksonville would be 4-6 heading into the final stretch of the season with playoff hopes all but evaporated. The team has a brutal set of games in the next few weeks that could easily leave them no better than 6-10 by year’s end. (That’s what happens when you lose to Cincinnati and Cleveland.)

Now many of the things that have happened this bizarre season are beyond the control of Del Rio. It’s not his fault that an offensive lineman nearly got killed during a drive-by-shooting. Nor were a rash of injuries on the offensive line his fault. But for the most part, NFL owners and NFL fans don’t care about the what-ifs, they care about the right now.

And when you have stories leaking out that Del Rio is banning music in the locker room and benching his team captain, it’s clear that things have may have spiralled out of control and that this might be his last season in Jacksonville.

But nothing would cure that ill more than a victory over the Titans, who despite their record, are not an impressive football team. Their defense is dominant, but not scary. Kerry Collins is well, Kerry Collins. While the team has a solid ground game, the Titans have lacked for years that playmaker wide receiver who can strike fear in opposing teams.

Of course that’s the same problem with the Jags, which despite the resurrection of Matt Jones this season, have just not found a way to replicate the magic they once had with Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. David Garrard is usually more dangerous with his legs right now than his arm because of the inconsistent WR play on the team. This is important because while the Lions couldn’t shut down the Jaguars rushing attack, the Titans will. Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor combined for a paltry 31 yards rushing in their season opener against Tennessee.

The Titans have so far this season have made it by winning ugly, doing just enough to scratch and claw out a victory.

But for the Jags losing will be equally ugly: It could signal the start of a complete retooling, yet again, of this franchise. Del Rio has been a good coach and has taken the Jaguars to the playoffs twice in the last three years. But given the high expectations after last year’s 11-5 season, a losing season may doom him. Right now Del Rio has a 49-42 record in six seasons and two trips to the playoffs.

In eight seasons former Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin was 72-64 before he was forced out, including four playoff wins and two trips to the AFC Championship game. Hmmmmm…….We all know how that turned out.