Jacksonville Jaguars

Down Here

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The NFL season is underway and there is a lot of room for improvement for several teams. We are going to take a look at the AFC South and preview the Week 2 matchups.

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville: This sounds crazy to say but the Colts acquired Matt Ryan to win games like this. Last season with a playoff berth on the line in Week 18, Indy lost in Jacksonville (3-14) to a bad team. That’s when they realized they had to move on from Carson Wentz and upgrade the quarterback position.

On paper it looks like the Colts have a complete team and they only need solid quarterback play to make a deep playoff run. They tied division rival Houston in Week 1, 20 – 20. Matt Ryan did throw for 352 yards and a touchdown in his debut but he also had two turnovers.

The Jaguars are coming into the season with optimism. Doug Pederson is the new head coach and he’s the man that finally brought a Super Bowl to Philadelphia. Trevor Lawrence is also expected to drastically improve in his second year in the league. The Jags lost to Washington 28 -22 to start the season.

The Colts are looking to send a message to Jacksonville and they will win convincingly.

Houston @ Denver: The Texans are expected to be a bad team but they put up a very good fight against Indy. The game ended in a tie but they did lead 20 – 3 going into the fourth quarter.

Lovie Smith is in his first year as head coach. He served as associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the Texans for the 2021 season. The defense recorded 25 takeaways in 2021, tied for tenth.

“Obviously we didn’t lose the game, but it kind of feels that way since we were up, we were doing so many good things in the beginning and then they came back,” Houston linebacker Christian Kirksey said.

Quarterback Davis Mills threw for 240 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions and completed 62% of his pass attempts.

Receiver Brandon Cooks led the team with 7 receptions for 82 yards. Houston struggled running the ball, gaining 77 yards on 28 attempts.

We all know the Broncos have Russell Wilson now but I don’t think they are an elite team.

I pick Denver to win but not a blowout.

Tennessee @ Buffalo: This is a Monday Night Football game so we expect it to be good.

They played Monday night last season and the Titans won, 34 – 31. Some things have changed since last year though because the Bills are the favorite to win the AFC.

They started the season by blowing out the defending Super Bowl champion Rams on the road, 31 – 10. Josh Allen looks like he might win MVP this season.

Tennessee lost a close game to the Giants 21 – 20 so they are looking for their first win of the season. Derrick Henry played his first regular season game since his 2021 foot injury. He rushed for 82 yards on 21 carries. Ryan Tannehill is looked at as the weak link, which is why they drafter quarterback Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 draft.

They also traded star wide receiver A.J. Brown to Philly on the first day of the draft so they are missing a key weapon.

I expect Buffalo to win by double digits.

Down South

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Week 1 of the NFL is in the books. We have some early takeaways from each team. Let’s take a look at the AFC South to see if any of the teams are contenders.

Arizona Cardinals 38, Tennessee Titans 13: Tennessee received a lot of hype in the offseason. They traded for Julio Jones. Paired with A.J. Brown, several analysts speculated they were the best wide receiver duo in the league.

Derrick Henry led the league in rushing in 2020 with over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns. Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith left to take the head coach position in Atlanta. Todd Downing has taken over as OC and things did not go well in the opening game.

They fell behind early and could not establish the run like they wanted. Henry rushed for 58 yards on 17 carries.

Chester Rogers led the team in receiving with 62 yards. Chandler Jones single-handedly terrorized the offense with 5 sacks. Ryan Tannehill complete 21 of 35 passes for 212 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

The Titans had questions on defense going into the season and they still do. Kyler Murray threw for 289 yards, 4 touchdowns, completed 66% of his passes and he ran for another score. Chase Edmonds only had 12 carries but he out-gained Henry with 63 yards.

Seattle Seahawks 28, Indianapolis Colts 16: Philip Rivers retired, and the Colts acquired Carson Wentz. He did not play well his last couple of seasons in Philadelphia, so he is trying to regain his confidence.

The Colts have one of the best defenses, but they could not stop Seattle. Russell Wilson completed 78% of his passes for 254 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Chris Carson had 16 carries for 91 yards. Tyler Lockett caught 4 passes for 100 yards and 2 TD’s.

Wentz threw for 251 yards and 2 touchdowns. He attempted 38 passes, which is more attempts than Indy wants.

Starting left tackle Eric Fisher did not play and he was under constant pressure. Running back Jonathan Taylor had 17 carries for 56 yards.

Houston Texans 37, Jacksonville Jaguars 21: Jacksonville has Urban Meyer in his first year as a professional coach. They drafted Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft and he’s the opening day starting quarterback. They are coming off of a 1 – 15 season, so they have several holes to fill on the roster.

Lawrence completed 55% of his passes for 332 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He had 51 pass attempts which is too many for a rookie QB to be successful.

“Losing is always hard, especially when you feel like you are prepared and had a great week,” Lawrence said. “I really think we were ready and obviously didn’t play well. It starts with me. I didn’t play well, for sure.”

Jacksonville had 10 penalties which is uncharacteristic for a team coached by Meyer.

Houston is not playing star quarterback Deshaun Watson because of open sexual assault allegations.

Veteran Tyrod Taylor is the starter and he passed for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brandin Cooks had a monster day with 5 catches and 132 yards. Mark Ingram II ran for 85 yards and a TD.

Tennessee and Indy are still the best teams in the division. The Colts have a brutal schedule though and play the Rams next.

It doesn’t get much easier for the Titans because they play Seattle on the road. Houston travels to Cleveland Week 2. Jacksonville hosts Denver next and that’s a game they can win.

Tebow Impact

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Consumers love Tim Tebow and are happy to see him back in the NFL.

Just 24 hours after signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tebow’s apparel has been flying off the sleeves.

NFLShop.com reported the top 5 selling items all belong to Tebow: black alternate jerseys for men, women and children, as well as T-shirts for men and women.

The Tebow effect caused Tom Brady’s red Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey to fall to ninth on the list of top sellers.

Tebow’s jersey was the bestselling uniform when he was with the Denver Broncos in 2010, New York Jets in 2012, New England Patriots in 2013 and Philadelphia Eagles in 2015.

In 2016 for a few weeks his New York Mets jersey was the best-selling Major League Baseball jersey in the country.

Tebow’s longest run as the best-selling jersey in sport came as a quarterback at the University of Florida, where even to this day, it holds the record for the most jerseys of a college player ever sold.

Tebow signed a one-year deal (non-guaranteed) to play tight end with the Jaguars. He is currently sporting the number 85 jersey. He might not even wear the 85 jersey for long.

If Jacksonville moves backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, which rumors suggest they are trying, Tebow could claim his iconic 15 jersey.

If that happens, you can bet football and Tebow fans won’t hesitate to complete their collection.

As a sputtering franchise, the Jaguars didn’t warrant much attention last season, but look at them now! The Jaguars are the talk of the NFL on shows, radio and social media around the country.

The attention is only going to intensify as OTA’s starts and the media will be allowed to watch practice in person this week. Tebow obviously has generated most of the attention because of his comeback at age 33 to play tight end, a position he’s never once played.

Jaguars jerseys are three of the top seven and four of the top 15 jerseys on NFLShop.com.

Tebow is a megastar in the Jacksonville area, a former standout at Nease High School and the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner at Florida. He also helped Urban Meyer win two national championships for the Florida Gators.

Tim Tebow will be trying to land a spot on the Jaguar roster and battling Chris Manhertz, James O’Shaughnessy, Luke Farrell and Tyler Davis on the roster.

Whatever you think of Tim Tebow, you must say, he makes a tremendous financial impact wherever he plays.

AFC South Draft Preview

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2021 NFL Draft is later this week. Let’s take a look around the AFC South to see who will be drafted in the first round.

Jacksonville: The Jaguars (1-15) earned the top pick but they also have the 25th pick.

With a record that bad they clearly need help at several positions. Legendary college coach Urban Meyer came out of retirement and was hired as head coach.

We know Clemson Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is going to be the first pick in the draft. He has all of the measurables, standing 6’6 and 220 pounds. He has high football IQ and a strong arm. He has basically every accolade you can get as a college player except for the Heisman Trophy.

He’s a national champion and led his team to the College Football Playoff in the three seasons he played. The last quarterback prospect I can think of that was clearly the top prospect like this was Andrew Luck. I expect him to be very successful in the NFL.

With the 25th pick. I think a difference maker at wide receiver is what they will get to pair with Lawrence.

Purdue receiver Rondale Moore fits that mold. Purdue only played four games last season and Moore played three of them.

He had 35 catches and 270 yards.

His best statistical season was as a freshman in 2018. He had 114 catches, 1,258 yards and 12 TD’s.

He ran a 4.33 40 at his pro day so he’s very fast.

Florida receiver Kadarius Toney is also another possible selection. In 11 games he had 70 receptions, 984 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Indianapolis: The Colts (11-5) are a very solid team. Philip Rivers played his only season in Indy last year and led the team to the playoffs before he retired.

Now they have Carson Wentz as the signal caller. The Colts have the 21st pick so they can go in several directions depending on the players still available.

Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore would be a good pick. In 8 games last season he had 86 receptions, 1,193 yards and 8 touchdowns. He ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at his pro day. He reminds me of Tyreek Hill and Indy could use a playmaker at wide receiver.

Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips might be another possibility. He’s 6’5, 266 pounds so he has ideal size for the position. In 2020 he had 45 total tackles and 8 sacks.

Tennessee: The Titans (11-5) won the division last season. They advanced to the AFC Championship game in 2019. I think this team is a serious championship contender.

Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins would be a good pick to strengthen the offensive line. We know Tennessee loves to run the ball with Derrick Henry, so this makes sense. He was First Team All-Big 12 in 2020.

At 6’6 and 320 pounds he looks the part. He’s very physical and aggressive.

Virginia Tech corner back Caleb Farley might also be a possibility. He opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns. He recently had back surgery, which is something to consider. In 2019 he had 20 tackles, 12 pass deflections and 4 interceptions.

The Houston Texans (4-12) do not have a first-round pick. I’m looking forward to the draft to see how teams will address their needs.

Life Of A Dawguar

By: Jeff Doke

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Every fan has at least one moment in their sporting life that they remember precisely where they were and what they were doing when it happened. I have two.

The first is January 1, 1981. I was 9 years old, and I remember clearly watching my quiet, reserved, school teacher mom literally jumping up and down on our living room couch screaming “GO! GO! GO!” as Hershel Walker rumbled up the middle for 25 yards against some Irish dudes.

It’s the first Georgia game I can remember watching, and it’s when I first realized there was something special about this game called “football.”

Those were some good days. The three years of Hershel Walker between the hedges was enough to spoil a budding football fan. A national championship, a trip to a second championship game, and a Heisman Trophy?

One could get used to this! Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and pat early-80s me on the head and say “there, there.” Football life for the Dawg Fan was not sunshine & roses for large swaths of the coming decades.

Oh sure, there were some great moments – the 2018 Rose Bowl, the 2005 SEC Championship over LSU, the 2007 “storm the field” victory over Florida. But for every great moment like these, there’s a Prayer at Jordan Hare, a 2nd & 26, and pretty much any game against Florida in the Spurrier years.

The second defining sports memory in my life came on November 30, 1993. I was throwing darts with some fraternity brothers at a place called The Brick in downtown Milledgeville when I looked up to the TV over the bar to see the announcement that Jacksonville had been awarded the 32nd NFL franchise.

I let out a massive holler that literally left everyone else in the place silent. Under normal circumstances, I would have been mortified, but I was elated. My hometown was getting an NFL team! (Yes, I know. I’m from Brunswick, but as Jim Rome once said, Brunswick is just a suburb of Jacksonville that happens to be in another state. Again, tell me I’m wrong.)

Much like my early days as a citizen of Dawgnation, the early days of Jaguars fandom was the stuff of legends.

The AFC Championship game in our second year. Three consecutive trips to the postseason in the years following. That epic 14-2 season in 1999. And then, much like the post-1983 Dawgs, it all came crashing down. The Blaine Gabbert years. The Justin Blackmon debacle. Those damn tarps. The Tennessee &!%$*#@ Titans.

Yes, you could say I’m a glutton for punishment. Doubly so when you realize how few people fall into the Venn Diagram intersection of “Dawg fan” and “Jags fan” – “Dawguars,” if you will.

Most Dawg people are Falcon fans simply due to geography, regardless of how allegedly infrequently the Falcons draft UGA players  – three since 1995 by the way.

Three players, coincidentally, is how many UGA alums the Jaguars have drafted in that same span…and also how many North Avenue Trade School “players” have snuck their way onto the Jags roster as well.

All of those numbers are dwarfed by the massive 11 players from Gainesville that have gone on to wear teal & black.

Eleven hated amphibians that we booed on Saturdays that we now have to choke down the bile and root for on Sundays.

Players like Fred Taylor, one of the Pride of the Jaguars, that broke our heart for years at the WLOCP. First rounders like Taven Bryan & CJ Henderson. And now, after the Marrone era, we now welcome a former Gator to the Head Coaches’ office – Mr. Urban Meyer. Ugh.

Whether or not this winds up being another Pete Carroll success or another rare Nick Saban failure in the NFL is yet to be seen.

I hold high hopes that Urban will be able to take that “generational talent” headed our way from Clemson (really? I’ve gotta support a Clemson player now, too? Fine…) and return us to the halcyon days reminiscent of those first five years of our franchise history.

If he gets us our first Lombardi, this Dawg will be understandably ecstatic.

I’m just glad it’s not Spurrier. Even I have limits.

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch January 16

Jason Bishop Show w Kipp Branch January 16
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Southern Charm

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Week 11 of the NFL season is in the books.

The contenders are starting to rise to the top and separate themselves at this point.

Let’s take a look at the AFC South and grade the teams thus far.

Jacksonville: The Jaguars (1-9) have the second worst record in the league behind the winless New York Jets.

The lone win came in the season opener, so they’ve lost nine consecutive games.

Quarterback Gardner Minshew fractured his right thumb in Week 7 against the Chargers.

Jake Luton has been playing since then and he’s struggled. In his last two games he’s 34 of 72 passes for 320 yards, 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions.

Minshew may return next week against Cleveland. One bright spot has been rookie running back James Robinson. He’s rushed for 762 yards (3rd) and 5 touchdowns.

The Jags are 27th in total offense and 30th in total defense.

The best thing they have going for them is they can possibly land the top pick in the draft. At this pace they should pick no worse than second. Grade: F.

Indianapolis: The Colts (7-3) are tied for the division lead.

Veteran QB Philip Rivers is in his first season in Indy.

He has a problem turning the ball over and he has thrown 8 interceptions up to this point.

They don’t have a big-time playmaker on offense. The Colts have a couple of talented backs in Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Taylor.

They are coming off of a good overtime win against Green Bay Sunday.

The defense is elite, ranked second in total defense. They allow less than 300 yards per game and 21 points per game.

The offense isn’t bad, ranking 13th in total offense. This team is a contender because they have a great defense that can keep them in any game. Grade: B+.

Houston: The Texans (3-7) fired head coach Bill O’Brien after an 0-4 start.

He also traded All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson is a very good young quarterback, but he does not have much to work with. Wide receiver Will Fuller V has over 700 receiving yards and Brandon Cooks has 634.

Houston is 18th in total offense and defense.

They are 2 – 1 in their last three games. The one loss was 10-7 to the Browns. They can realistically win half of their final six games that include Detroit, Chicago and Cincinnati.

They are not going to make the playoffs so that might be pointless. Grade: D.

Tennessee: The Titans (7-3) look like they are picking up where they left off last season.

They play old school football by running the ball and controlling the clock.

Running back Derrick Henry leads the league in carries (229), rushing yards (1,079) and he has 3 rushing TD’s (3rd).

QB Ryan Tannehill is good enough to make plays when the run game isn’t working. He’s thrown for 22 touchdowns; 4 picks and he’s completing 71% of his passes.

They just beat the Ravens in overtime, so they play well against good teams.

They did lose to Indy 34-17 two weeks ago. They play again this week and they cannot afford to get swept. Grade: B.

Back To The Future At QB

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It is well documented that the Jacksonville Jaguars need a QB going into the 2019 season.

Nick Foles will not receive the franchise tag in Philadelphia and that may set the wheel in motion for Foles to become a Jaguar.

Even if the Jags get Foles, he will be just a bridge to the future. Jacksonville with its top 10 pick needs to draft a QB to groom for the future.

Let’s take a look at this QB draft class:

Dwayne Haskins: The former Ohio State Buckeye is the top rated QB in the draft.

Haskins set 28 OSU records at a school that has produced some quality quarterbacks over the years.

He has a strong arm and is confident in a traditional pro-style offense. He has good mobility and can make things happen when the pocket breaks down.

When you pass for 50 TD’s and 5,000 yards in a 14-game season you are a special talent.

It seems like the New York Giants like Haskins at the number 6 pick. Will teams like the Miami Dolphins trade up to try and get Haskins.

If Haskins falls to Jacksonville will the Jags take him? Haskins seems to be the most pro ready quarterback at this moment in time.

Kyler Murray: Murray had a Heisman winning 2018 season at Oklahoma, passing for over 4,000 yards, rushing for 1,000 and propelled the Sooners into the College Football Playoffs.

Murray is just 5′ 10″ and 195 pounds. The shortest signal-caller in the NFL right now is Russell Wilson at 5′ 11″.

Murray only had 5 passes batted down last season. Baker Mayfield shut up the critics last year after the Browns were heavily criticized after taking Mayfield with the number pick in the draft because of his size.

Mayfield had the Browns in playoff contention last year. The Jaguars have more pieces on defense and Murray is a dynamic playmaker. Murray walked away from $5 million from the Oakland Athletics to play baseball, and will focus on being an NFL QB. Murray is a generational talent.

While the critics chime in on size this kid just makes plays that leave you scratching your head. Murray to me is a better talent than Lamar Jackson. The Ravens have pinned their future on Lamar Jackson.

Drew Lock: The Missouri QB has a gunslinger mentality and throws the best deep ball in the draft. After the Tigers started 1-5, Lock took over and led his team to six straight wins and tossed 44 TD’s.

Lock will turn the ball over sometimes, but he is a natural leader. Lock is tall at 6’4 and will be a steal for a team that is on the cusp of being a playoff contender.  Lock reminds me of a Matt Stafford, who is super talented but plays on a bad team.

Who do the Jaguars select?

My pick today is Kyler Murray. The Jags offense needs an infusion of excitement.

Murray will sell out the stadium and would bring a wow factor to the city. You can’t go wrong with Haskins, Murray, or Lock, but the pick is Murray and the Jags are set for the future.

Murray would almost guarantee that no tarps will ever cover upper deck seats in Jacksonville again and end the relocation rumors that are always floating around.

A future trip to Super Bowl would be in reach also.