Jaguars Expect Boost When Injured Starters Return

By Joey Farbo

As the issues that have plagued the Jaguars over the past couple of seasons have reappeared this preseason, fans are starting to question whether or not this team is ready to play at a playoff caliber level in 2011.

The Jaguars coaching staff is not ready to hit the panic button yet because they believe the team will get a boost when their injured starters return to the field for the season opener.

The Jaguars played most of the preseason without starting running back Maurice Jones-Drew, defensive ends Aaron Kampman and Jeremy Mincey, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, linebacker Clint Session and offensive tackle Eben Britton.

The coaching staff is confident that the main reason the first-team defense did not generate much pressure on Saturday night against the Bills was the fact that they were playing without three of their top pass rushers. The Jaguars are the only team that has yet to get a sack this preseason, which is a little unsettling due to the fact that they have finished towards the bottom of the league the past two seasons in sacks.

The lack of pressure from the front seven this preseason has left the secondary exposed. Even the best defensive backs have trouble maintaining coverage when the quarterback has time to sit back in the pocket and look down field without worrying about getting hit. The Jaguars secondary would look a whole lot better if the defensive line was generating consistent pressure.

The Jaguars offense has yet to generate any sort of rhythm this preseason without Jones-Drew on the field.

It is no secret that Jones-Drew is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL and he commands a lot of attention when he is on the field. Without his presence this preseason, opposing defenses have been able to commit most of their attention to rushing the quarterback and locking down the Jaguars wide receivers. Once Jones-Drew returns, the passing game should open up significantly for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars coaching staff understands that having Jones-Drew healthy when the regular season starts is more important than giving him significant playing time in the preseason in order to score more points in meaningless games.

We won’t know how truly good or bad the 2011 Jaguars are going to be until they have their full team on the field for the season opener in two weeks, but until we know how they perform when it counts I will be withholding my panic.

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