In 4 days, the Titans will face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that recently underwent a quarterback change. While both teams will start QB’s that were not the starters this spring, and in the Titans case not on the team, we’ll take this write-up to focus on the Titans defense and what they will be facing Sunday.
To say this defense is a question mark, would be an understatement. With Jason Jones moving from DT to DE, Michael Griffin not playing like a Pro Bowler (though he can), Chris Hope hopefully playing solid enough, Derrick Morgan–well he is his own question mark (look for a week 2 or 3 return), a rookie LBer (Ayers)….the list goes on. Time will tell how the this defense grows with this new coaching staff but the early signs do look good.
My biggest concern for the defense, on Sunday, will be how well they stop the run. Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew, despite a knee surgery, remains one of the most dangerous backfield threats in the league. He can run by you, run over you, and catch the ball as well as any of their receivers. Backup RB Deji Karim is a shifty guy that the LBers will have to keep an eye or two on when he is in the game. These are two guys that the defense needs to be worried about and there is a real possibility that over 150 yards rushing for the Jaguars finds itself in the final stats. Newly-acquired nose tackle Shaun Smith bolsters the run defense with over 330 lbs of run-stopping capability, but that’s just one guy. Rookie DT Karl Kloog only weighs in the 270s. Can he get overwhelmed throughout a full game?
The passing game for the Jaguars is a virtual unknown as of now. After jettisoning starting QB David Garrard, the Jaguars will start Luke McCown. If you’ve never heard of him, you’re in the majority. McCown, at times, looked like a capable starter, but keep in mind that he was the #3 QB on the depth chart during the pre-season.
CB’s Cortland Finnegan and the Titans half of the McCourty shouldn’t have too much trouble shutting down the Jaguars receivers. It will be shocking to read here late Monday afternoon that the Titans just weren’t prepared for what Luke McCown did to this defense. Expect a run-heavy offense, unless something goes wrong.
So, stop the run and shut down the Jaguars seems to be the mantra for week 1. It can be done, but will it?