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Jacksonville Jaguars: Five Things Looking Ahead

There seems to be no rust on superstar Maurice Jones-Drew.

Throughout the Denver Broncos game, MJD set the pace with his running – 23 carries for 98 yards. As the seconds slowly ticked away, his 4.3 yards per average kept the Broncos’ offense off the field. Plus, with the comfort of having second-year runner Rashad Jennings, who compiled 26 yards Sunday, MJD is afforded a few plays to take breathers. Jones-Drew’s performance proved that the alleged rumors of a preseason knee surgery are, most likely, false. When asked Wednesday about his feelings on the trip to San Diego this week, MJD stated, “Another tough challenge for us. Denver kind of presented a couple different things that we had to adjust to. This week, San Diego has a totally different agenda. Their front seven is tough, their corners can cover, their safeties can run well, they’re real athletic.”

Will this be the same David Garrard every week?

Whether Garrard’s stats are a product of a solid line or heady play, it does not matter. What does is if he can bring these numbers every Sunday. It will be nearly impossible to match the 76.2 completion percentage and three passing touchdowns. However, 170 yards in the air and only being sacked once are key areas in which Garrard can excel. Garrard explained about moving onward, “We’re just going to keep building. We haven’t maxed out on anything. We did do some good things, but there were some things left on the field, too. We feel good moving forward, but we know there are things we can continue to build on and get better at.”

The Jaguars need to prove wins can be notched on the road.

For the five wins at home last year, Jacksonville was only able to bring home two road victories. A 2-6 away record is nearly as embarrassing as an intoxicated Snookie on a New Jersey beach. Two of those road losses came at the hands of West Coast opponents – the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. In those contests, the Jaguars were outscored 61-3. With regards to the West Coast trips last season, the entire team has that in their rearview mirror. Jack Del Rio told the media Wednesday, “We played horribly last year on the road in particularly the west coast, so we’ve got to rectify that and they’re going to be a good challenge.” Against San Diego, quick drives cannot be allowed. The Denver Broncos’ first two scoring drives totaled 2:33. Philip Rivers would love to have those opportunities.

The secondary has to play better with the high-caliber quarterbacks on the schedule.

In the first half of the season, Jacksonville will meet Rivers, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and maybe Kevin Kolb (pending the post-concussion symptoms). Allowing 295 yards on 21 for 33 passing by Denver’s Kyle Orton could have ended up much worse for the teal and black. The second part of the schedule includes Eli and Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub twice and Donovan McNabb. On a conference call with Jacksonville media, Rivers was asked if the Chargers are talking about cornerback Derek Cox and his recent struggles. “Obviously, he’s given up a few plays. But, you look over a 16-game season at corner and it’s hard not to give up a few plays. Certainly you see his ability and he can make plays as well, not by any means is he a guy we’ve been saying ‘he’s the guy.’ He’ll be ready to play great against us.”

Will Aaron Kampman and Tyson Alualu continue to stand out on defense?

Against the Broncos, these two Jaguars accounted for 2.5 sacks, six tackles and seven quarterback hits. They made their presence known in the first quarter. For the past three years, getting to opposing quarterbacks has been a crucial obstacle for the organization. Last season’s league-low 14 sacks is simply fuel for the fire. With three sacks Sunday, Jacksonville is over 20 percent to last year’s total. Pressure will be essential to assist the Jaguars’ secondary in covering the true playmakers. Alualu’s quickness and ability to stay low to the ground bring a newfound feel to the defense. If Jacksonville wants to be in games late, the turnover differential needs to be in its favor. On Kampman and Alualu, Del Rio said, “It is nice to see guys that we hoped would give us that kind of impact do just that and deliver.”

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Richard Miller is the host of “Miller On Sports” weekdays on ABC 1530 WBOB from 1pm until 2pm. Also, he hosts “Inside the Game” Saturdays from noon until 1pm, alongside Darrell Pasquale and NASCAR Andy. Listen live at www.1530wbob.com.

On Sunday, Richard covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for Sporting News Radio. He is also currently writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2011.

Follow Richard’s daily blog on MillerOnSports.com and his Twitter @MillerOnSports.
You can e-mail Richard at MillerOnSports@gmail.com

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