It’s Tuesday. The NFL season starts in two days. Like myself, millions of fans can barely contain themselves. It’s football, baby, what else needs to be said?
The Jaguars and Chiefs square off in EverBank Field on Sunday, both trying to erase last year’s awful season with new coaches and new opportunities.
Both teams are hungry and eager to prove last season’s 2-14 record for both squads was a fluke. And in more important terms, they want to prove the media and pundits on a national scale they are better than their records indicated.
For the Jaguars, everything rests with Blaine Gabbert and the hand injury he suffered in the preseason game against the Jets. If Gabbert can play through pain and show he is willing to suffer a bit in the healing process, he might have a better offense than he is given credit for working in.
If the defense is better and can get to the quarterback, things could be a lot brighter in sunny Florida.
Here are some keys to a Jaguars victory…
Stiff pass rush
I was surprised that Kyle Love and Pannel Egboh were not on the 53-man roster. That means the rush from the line will be counted on from Sen’Derrick Marks on the inside and from Jason Babin on the inside.
Also watch for Brandon Deaderick, who can play inside and out and the movement of Andre Branch, who may be traded before the end of the week.
Offensive line play
Especially the first game for Luke Joeckel.
Joeckel and Eric Fisher will play in this game as the first two picks in this year’s draft. Joeckel will be asked to play on the right side and lead the rushing attack. If he can block for Maurice Jones-Drew and help in pass protection, the Jaguars could put plenty of points on the board.
The man with the common name will be asked to be Superman at times in this passing game. With Justin Blackmon out the next four games, Brown and rookie Ace Sanders will have to step forward and make plays.
Joeckel, Sanders, Denard Robinson and the rookie secondary of Jonathan Cyprien, Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray. They all will have a major role in how this team plays Sunday. This is a class of speed and quickness and each will be asked to step up in their first regular season game and help this team win.
Gabbert’s right thumb
Everything rides on this. Seriously, if he cannot go or cannot finish, Chad Henne is waiting in the wings.
Since Ricky Stanzi is on the roster to help plan for the Chiefs, his former team, there is a lot to like about the Jags getting a win.
I have made the case for both quarterbacks to start and think both are equal on paper. Gabbert is younger and has more ability and is more athletic. Henne is more confident in the pocket and the huddle. This could be a huge day for the quarterback playing against a questionable Chiefs secondary.