Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills Gameday Preview
By Lori Chase - Staff Columnist
Published: October 10th, 2010
JAGUARS OVERVIEW (2010 RANKINGS)
If Bills fans want to see a rebuilding process in action, look no further than this week’s opponent. Half of Jacksonville’s current starters weren’t on the roster in 2008.
OFFENSE (#24 total yardage, #12 rushing, #26 passing, #22 scoring):
So which quarterback is David Garrard: the one good enough to play in the Pro Bowl after last season, albeit as an injury replacement, or the one who followed a four-interception horror show at San Diego in Week 2 with a benching against Philly in the next game? Little of both, maybe. He rebounded with a decent performance against Indy, but we know the Colts are shaky on defense whenever Bob Sanders isn’t roaming the secondary.
Good thing for Garrard that he has workhorse running back Maurice Jones-Drew lining up behind him. The Bills have done a credible job of containing Jones-Drew through the years, not allowing a 100-yard game and holding him to 3.4 yards per carry, but the sturdy back has managed to find the end zone in each of his four meetings with Buffalo. He’s dangerous out of the backfield, too: only wideout Mike Sims-Walker had more receptions for the Jags last season.
There isn’t much depth at wide receiver behind young starters Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas, but that might not be a major concern this week: Buffalo has had problems covering the tight end, safety Bryan Scott is out with a knee injury, and Marcedes Lewis has half of the team’s six touchdown catches.
The Jaguars spent their top picks on tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton last year, and immediately plugged them into the starting lineup. Center Brad Meester, the veteran of the unit, is flanked by guards Uche Nwaneri and Justin Smiley (acquired in a trade with Miami).
DEFENSE (#30 total yardage, #t12 rushing, #30 passing, #30 scoring):
The Jaguars knew they had to improve the pass rush after finishing 2009 with a franchise record-low 14 sacks. Their answer? Blow up the defensive line and start over: nine of the 11 linemen on the roster weren’t on the team a year ago. Second-year pro Terrance Knighton, who leads the team with two sacks, and first-round pick Tyson Alualu start at tackle, with former Packer Aaron Kampman and 2008 first-rounder Derrick Harvey at end.
Middle linebacker Kirk Morrison came over in a draft-day trade with Oakland. Team tackle leader Daryl Smith mans one outside spot, with Russell Allen likely to get his third consecutive start in place of the injured Justin Durant.
Former Bengal David Jones, yet another trade acquisition, has taken over opposite franchise interception leader Rashean Mathis at cornerback. Jones was flash-fried for 15 catches and 196 yards by Reggie Wayne last week, so we’ll see how that works. Free safety Sean Considine is listed as doubtful, so expect Gerald Alexander to line up alongside Anthony Smith.
Josh Scobee ran around EverBank Field like a madman at the end of last Sunday’s game. Then again, after drilling a franchise-record 59-yard field goal – the third-longest game-ender in NFL history – to beat the Indianapolis Colts, who could blame him for a little exuberance? Scobee’s five-for-five this season, with no chip shots in the bunch; all of his attempts have been from 40 yards or longer.
Pittsford native Adam Podlesh, now in his fourth year in Jacksonville, is averaging 39.4 net yards on his punts, placing seven of 16 kicks inside the opponent’s 20. Mike Thomas is a threat on punt returns, averaging 11 yards per attempt. The Jags’ special teams got a boost in the offseason with the addition of three-time Pro Bowler Kassim Osgood, who signed as an unrestricted free agent.
There’s room to run against the Jags defense: opposing teams are averaging 4.3 yards per carry and have already scored six rushing touchdowns. It’s going to be difficult to pick the Bills at any point this season, but this looks like one of the few potential wins on the schedule ... or at least it did before they beat the Colts.