By: Rob Johnson @RJ1452
As the Jags received the opening kickoff on Sunday, I was surprised to see all of the empty seats at EverBank Field. The game against the Titans should have been the most anticipated home game of the year, because fans didn't have a chance to enjoy the real home opener against the Texans in September. Sunday, and the days leading up to it, provided the feel of the start of a new season.
The Jaguars were coming off a near upset of the Texans in the rematch in Houston, and Chad Henne had breathed life into the team. Nevertheless, the empty teal seats were dominant. That was unfortunate for the fans that chose to stay away, as Henne And The Jagsdelivered the first home victory of 2012.
Cue Elton John's Bennie And The Jets. Now, you'll be hearing that song in your head the rest of the week (perhaps, the rest of the season), especially every time Henne is mentioned on 1010XL. You're welcome.
After Henne's first pass was tipped and intercepted, I'm sure the fans at the game were thinking the Everbank Enigma had struck again. However, something different from what we've seen from the Jaguars at home this season occurred. The team, due to Henne's new presence, responded on both sides of the ball.
The Jags finally looked like the team I have been expecting all season. They weren't great. They weren't horrible. They were average. Most importantly, the Jaguars beat a comparable team.
As I expected, Henne picked up right where he left off last week. He was distributing the ball to multiple receivers due to his command of the offense, his refusal to check down at the first sign of trouble and his calmness in the pocket.
It is no coincidence that, for the second straight week, we have seen an improved performance from Justin Blackmon and the resurrection of Marcedes Lewis. Seven receivers caught passes, led by 105 yards from Cecil Shorts. Even Will Ta'ufo'ou and the newly signed Jordan Shipley caught one pass each.
Not everything is perfect for the Jags. The offensive line still has protection issues, and Henne needs to help them, when possible, by throwing the ball away. Seven sacks is unacceptable, regardless of how they are given up.
Thankfully, the Titans are struggling with their second-year quarterback, Jake Locker, and could not take advantage of those sacks or their defense's early interception. It was nice to watch a Jaguars game and see the other team struggle to score touchdowns and even miss a field goal.
With a few corrections, the Jaguars have the opportunity to make a mini-run to end the season on a respectable note. The Jags have the ability to win four of the remaining five games. Although, the Jets game in two weeks will be more difficult than some may anticipate. There will be plenty to discuss regarding that game later.
Props to the Jaguars defense. They bent a lot on Sunday, but they didn't break. Nevertheless, they will need to get a lot more pressure on the quarterback if the Jags are to win any more games this season. Ending the Titans game with only one sack is terrible. However, two interceptions and containing Chris Johnson for only 80 yards on 21 carries (one was 31 yards) were definitely bright spots.
This week, the Bills will be an interesting match-up. They are a decent pass defending team (233.3 YPG / 18th Overall) but a horrible rush defending team (147.3 YPG / 31st Overall). If Rashad Jennings runs with the passion he did against the Titans, the Jags should be able to keep the Bills on their heels. If Jennings is mediocre and Jalen Parmele is limited or not available, there will be a large burden on Henne to carry the team.
After the last two games, I have confidence in Henne to lead the Jags with a limited running game. However, a completely one-dimensional Jaguars offense may not be able to keep up with the potential explosiveness of the Bills. They have the ability to put big numbers on the board with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to Steve Johnson, Donald Jones and Scott Chandler. Even running back C.J. Spillar, who has dynamic rushing ability, is a receiving threat.
Once again, fans should be excited for this week's game. Chad, Justin, Cecil, Marcedes, Jordan, Michael and the rest of the team, or as I prefer to call them, Henne And The Jags, may be in the middle of a mini-success story in Jaguars history. While that may lead to a lower draft position in 2013, a strong finish to the 2012 season will be good for everyone.
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