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News » Second guesses: Jacksonville has been major bust 2008-11-03

Second guesses: Jacksonville has been major bust 2008-11-03

Second guesses: Jacksonville has been major bust 2008-11-03
Every training camp the so-called experts like myself try to come up with a new team to pick to reach the Super Bowl. The so-called surprise team. I picked Dallas and San Diego for the Super Bowl and both are in danger of missing the playoffs. I liked Pittsburgh and Jacksonville and Carolina. I whiffed on Tennessee.

But of all the misses, the Jaguars were the worst one. Based on how they beat the Steelers in the playoffs last season, we thought they could finally succeed the Colts as the best team in the AFC South. Well, we weren't close, and neither were a lot of the experts.

Today, the Jaguars are reeling. They have no identity. They should be a physical team on offense, running over opponents with Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. Well, that famous combination managed 56 yards on 16 carries against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

The Jaguars became the first victim of the Bengals this season and the winning quarterback was Ryan Fitzpatrick, not Carson Palmer. Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes to Chad Johnson, who promptly kissed his coach, Marvin Lewis, on the cheek. Yes, Chad is simply happy to be playing and on the winning side for a change. And the best runner on the field was, heaven help us, Cedric Benson, the washed up ex-Chicago Bear. Benson rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown.

The Jaguars are either one of this season's biggest disappointments or the most overrated of teams loved by many back in August. They spent big money on losers like receiver Jerry Porter. And one of their best players, defensive tackle John Henderson, hasn't played to his former standards.

Henderson was ejected from Sunday's game for head-slapping Bengals guard Andrew Whitworth. It was a silly fight and pretty much sums up a lost season for Jacksonville, a team that owner Wayne Weaver committed a lot of money to. Weaver expected to win, and now it's wait until next year.

Bears can't go back to Mad Rex

The Bears had something going with quarterback Kyle Orton. He probably would have won his 12th start in Soldier Field on Sunday if he could have stayed healthy. But the Lions' Cory Redding tackled him near the sidelines in the third quarter and then another Lion, Dewayne White, fell on top of him, catching his ankle in an awkward position. The end result wasn't a fracture, but a high ankle sprain. But the swelling was so bad the Bears won't really know the severity until Monday.

Either way, Orton probably will be lost for the crunch period of their schedule. They have unbeaten Tennessee next and then road games at Green Bay and Minnesota this month that could decide their fate atop the NFC North. The Bears are alone with a 5-3 record after a miracle win over the Detroit Lions, while both the Vikings and Packers are tied for second at 4-4.

Without Orton's mobility and toughness and accuracy, the Bears figure to slide with Rex Grossman. Yes, Mad Rex was the winning quarterback against the hard-luck Lions, but this game was really won by Chicago's defense and the great inside running of rookie Matt Forte in the second half. Grossman snuck across for the winning touchdown, but Forte got most of his 126 yards in key stretches of the fourth quarter.

NFL Week 9

Week 9 action

    Titans 19, Pack 16 (OT) -- Recap | Box
    Cardinals 34, Rams 13 -- Recap | Box
    Bears 27, Lions 23 -- Recap | Box
    Bucs 30, Chiefs 27 (OT) -- Recap | Box
    Jets 26, Bills 17 -- Recap | Box
    Bengals 21, Jaguars 19 -- Recap | Box
    Ravens 37, Browns 27 -- Recap | Box
    Vikings 28, Texans 21 -- Recap | Box
    Dolphins 26, Broncos 17 -- Recap | Box
    Giants 35, Cowboys 14 -- Recap | Box
    Eagles 26, Seahawks 7 -- Recap | Box
    Falcons 24, Raiders 0 -- Recap | Box
    Colts 18, Patriots 15 -- Recap | Box
    Steelers 23, Redskins 6 -- Recap | Box


  • Bradshaw: Titans-Giants Super Bowl?
  • Marvez: Giants are NFL's best team
  • Glazer: Jets rookie Gholston struggling


  • Buck and Aikman on Cowboys-Giants
  • Online OT: Complete NFL coverage


  • Week 9's best action
  • Most injury-ravaged teams

Grossman was 9-for-19 for 58 yards with a touchdown and an interception and too many batted attempts at the line of scrimmage. That's the headache with Rex. He can't see and he still doesn't seem to move well in the pocket. The Titans should eat him for lunch next Sunday.

The Bears better hope that Orton recovers in time to play sooner than a month. Otherwise, their season could be lost because they no longer have Devin Hester's return magic and the defense is no longer the suffocating presence it once was.

Deal the Falcons in

Yes, the Atlanta Falcons have a better record at 5-3 than the Dallas Cowboys. It has been an amazing turnaround for a team abandoned by former coach Bobby Petrino and Michael Vick before him. All the credit belongs to coach Mike Smith, GM Tommy Dimitroff, rookie quarterback Matt Ryan and the best free-agent signing of the year, running back Michael Turner.

The Falcons so thoroughly humbled the Raiders on Sunday that JaMarcus Russell and his buddies had minus-2 yards of offense at halftime. While awaiting a miserable second half, Oakland owner Al Davis had to be wondering if maybe departed coach Lane Kiffin had the right idea. Maybe the Raiders should have drafted Calvin Johnson last season and then selected Ryan this season. Kiffin wanted to win immediately, and knew Russell would be difficult to sign as a rookie (which he was) and maybe impossible to develop into a winning quarterback without any big-time receiving threats.

Well, that's what is unfolding in Oakland this season while the Falcons are succeeding after Dimitroff made the wise choice with Ryan. The Falcons appear to be a thorn in the NFC playoff picture. Atlanta has lost two games in the NFC South, but the Falcons could prove to be spoilers. They are gaining confidence, especially Ryan.

Smith's bunch plays hard and the Chargers know that Turner can gain those tough yards. He's been doing it every game. Turner has 794 yards on the season while Ryan has 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Falcons are another feel-good story in the NFL. They might not be a playoff team this year, but the entire league knows that Smitty and Ryan are on the right track. Success seems right around the corner.

Sunday's notables

With all the football that I watched on Sunday, here are a few things that caught my attention:

Brett Favre threw another interception that was returned for a touchdown. Favre has thrown 300 career interceptions, but he isn't the NFL leader in throwing picks for touchdowns. That honor belongs to Dan Marino, formerly of the Dolphins. Marino had 29 interceptions returned for touchdowns; Favre now has 26.

The other remarkable achievement on Sunday was Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner throwing for 342 yards and two touchdowns against his old team, the St. Louis Rams. It was Warner's 45th 300-yard passing game, which is one more than Peyton Manning and only 10 behind Favre. Pretty remarkable for a guy who was once too afraid to take some reps in a Green Bay training camp many summers ago when Favre had already won three MVP awards.

And finally there was Justin Tuck's sack of Cowboys quarterback Brooks Bollinger in which the referee tossed a 15-yard penalty flag. The phrasing was that Tuck put too much weight on Bollinger while making the tackle. What is Tuck supposed to do? Go on a diet while in the air, his head properly in the quarterback's chest?

This has happened now in consecutive weeks — the Eagles' Trent Cole was flagged last week for a textbook tackle of a quarterback that was ruled a penalty. Every coach in Pop Warner tells the kids to keep your head up and aim for the chest area, not the head, of the offensive player. There are dozens of coaches and players mumbling out there, truly upset with how the game is being called and how fines are being imposed. If you aren't allowed to tackle like that, then they should change the rules and make the NFL a flag football league.

Ravens, Cardinals strike gold

The NFL unveiled some new stars on Sunday.

The Baltimore Ravens already have a good-looking quarterback in Joe Flacco, who outperformed Derek Anderson in Cleveland, but this was a coming-out party for Rutgers rookie Ray Rice. Playing for Willis McGahee, Rice ran through the Browns for a career-high 154 yards on 21 carries and caught three passes for another 22 yards.

Baltimore has a future with Flacco and Rice. And speaking of Cleveland, we have to wonder if the Browns will give Brady Quinn a chance pretty soon. The Vikings and Chiefs wanted to trade for Quinn and the Browns said no. Maybe it's time for Cleveland to find out why they've been holding onto this former No. 1 pick.

The Cardinals started rookie tailback Tim Hightower over Edgerrin James and the kid didn't disappoint. Hightower had a 30-yard touchdown run, the longest scoring run by an Arizona back in five seasons. He finished with 109 yards rushing.

The player who has to be sick in Arizona is backup quarterback Matt Leinart. This offense was supposed to be his. The Cardinals may have the best group of receivers in the NFL and now they have a good-looking running back. Warner, who wants a new contract, is benefiting from the talent around him. At this rate, the Cardinals have a great chance to win the NFC West and Warner has a new offensive toy in Hightower.

Good NFL personnel men will tell you that you can always find a good running back later in the draft. You don't have to take one in the first round. Rice and Hightower are perfect examples of just that.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 3, 2008

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Justin Green Name: Justin Green
Position: RB
Age: 26
Experience: 4 years
College: Montana
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