Concerns and Surprises For the Jacksonville Jaguars 2009 Preseason

Richard O'NealSenior Analyst IAugust 25, 2009

MIAMI - AUGUST 17:  Head coach Jack Del Rio of the Jacksonville Jaguars watches his team take on the Miami Dolphins during a preseason game at Landshark Stadium on August 17, 2009 in Miami, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Jaguars 12-9.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Normally when a team goes 0-2 in the first two preseason games, many questions are asked and suggestions are thrown out just about as much as the old tape from the cleats of its players.

Not so much in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars lost their opening preseason game to the Miami Dolphins 12-9 in a rain-soaked slug fest and were on the receiving end of a last-second loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-23 last weekend, and not one person has pressed the panic button.

Although the game against Miami didn't produce much in terms of offense for either team, it showed that the Jaguars are gelling as a defensive unit, which was a big question coming into the season with a new defensive coordinator.

The Tampa Bay game provided more positives than negatives with a huge boost from receiver Troy Williamson and a late comeback attempt from backup quarterback Todd Bouman.

Let's dive into some of the upcoming things to watch for and the key position matchups for the remainder of the preseason.


What to Watch For

Will Troy Williamson Emerge?  Williamson has come on very strong during training camp and preseason.  He had four receptions for 74 yards in the first game and a shocking 147 yards off of three receptions against Tampa Bay with 74 of those yards coming from an excellent touchdown pass from David Garrard on the first offensive play of the game.

Williamson has been heavily criticized for his inability to catch the ball over his five-year career.  The trade by the Jaguars for Williamson back in February of 2008 could pay off if he can develop into a reliable second or third option for the team.

Tra Thomas and Sean Considine Return to Philly. The two veterans have already brought a great deal of leadership to the team and will both most likely be starting come September 13.  Heading back to Philly this week will surely bring a great deal of emotion and excitement to both players as they spent 11 and four years there, respectively.


Key Position Matchups

—Defensive tackle will be important for the Jaguars because so much of their defensive strategies revolve around getting to the quarterback and putting pressure on the opposing offense, as well as stopping the run.  Rookie Terrance Knighton was selected in the third round to provide a boost to the front line and the emergence of Atiyyah Ellison could prove to be very beneficial for the Jaguars, especially with question marks surrounding two-time Pro Bowler John Henderson and whether he can return to his previous form.  Derek Landri could also help out if he is able to take bigger role in the rotation.

—Wide receiver is a complete transformation for the Jaguars, not only in terms of personnel but how the position has been played for the offense.  For the past couple of years the Jaguars have had big receivers that were supposed to be reliable deep threats for Byron Leftwich and David Garrard, that has since changed to a much smaller, speedy crop of young receivers that can still bring a deep threat to the offense.  The addition of Torry Holt will be great for Garrard, but after Holt, the Jaguars have no one that has stepped up to be the second go-to guy in the Jaguar offense. 

Which wideouts will step up?  Mike Sims-Walker was doing well until an ankle injury sidelined him a couple of weeks ago.  Mike Thomas has been battling a hamstring pull and Tiquan Underwood and Jarett Dillard have performed well but both had a case of the dropsies.

Someone needs to step up and fast.

—Offensive line is arguably the biggest concern for the team.  The line fell apart last year due to injuries and inconsistency, which is why the Jaguars picked two offensive linemen with their first two draft choices.  First round pick Eugene Monroe is behind due to holding out (missed two weeks of training camp).  Will Tony Pashos be better than he was last year after having a down year?  Are players like Vince Manuwai fully healed from the injuries they suffered last year?  A lot of questions need to be answered for the Jaguars to have a successful season running and throwing the ball.

The Jaguars could have a solid year ahead of them, provided that they address these concerns appropriately.


Parting Notes

—Final two preseason games are at Philadelphia on 8/27 (7:00 p.m.) and at home against Washington on 9/3 (7:30 p.m.).

—The Jaguars recently signed Ernest Wilford to a contract, giving him the chance to compete for a roster spot.  The six year 6'4'', 235-pound veteran will be playing to earn a spot as a tight end, a position that is somewhat new to him since he previously played wide receiver in his earlier years with the Jags.  Wilford had a down year with the Miami Dolphins, with only three receptions for 25 yards in 2008.

—Jaguars receiver Mike Walker has changed his last name to Sims-Walker to honor his father, Michael Sims, who died from colon cancer late last year.