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Jaguars-Buccaneers Game Preview

The Jaguars travel to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL this week to take on the in-state rival Buccaneers. The weather forecast calls for rain most of the day on Saturday, and there is a 60% chance of rain during the game. Get ready to see both teams running the ball a lot and quite a few turnovers in the sloppy mess.

The Jaguars are still trying to figure out what went wrong in Jacksonville last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. Jacksonville was dominated on offense, defense, and special teams. QB David Garrard had poor pass protection, and he does not seem to be gelling with the backup wide receivers (who are seeing more action due to WRs Jerry Porter and Reggie Williams missing time). The offensive line also did not block well in the running game, and there were several potential touchdown passes that did not happen due to overthrowing the wide receivers or dropping touchdown receptions.

The big black eye for the Jaguars continues to be the lack of a pass rush and poor cornerback play. They did not register one sack versus Miami and looked extremely uninspired. Jacksonville is hoping the return of DE Reggie Hayward can bolster the play of the defensive line this week. Rookie DE Quentin Groves seemed lost at times against the Dolphins and was a non-factor. The Jaguars are still without rookie DE Derrick Harvey as his holdout continues. The disappointing part with the lack of a pass rush is that it puts more pressure on the secondary. Something seems off with the play of CB Rashean Mathis as well. The longer he has to stay blanketed on a wide receiver, the less effective he is. Mathis was often a step or two behind WR Ted Ginn in last week’s game versus Miami. It is extremely hard for a defense that wants to exhibit an attacking style play effectively when there is no pass rush and poor coverage.

The Buccaneers are 2-0 in the preseason and have many reasons to be excited. Though WR Joey Galloway will not play this weekend due to a lingering groin injury, the Buccaneers have guys like Antonio Bryant and Maurice Stovall who can stretch the field. The ageless Jeff Garcia has not played in the first two preseason games, and backup QBs Luke McCown and Brian Griese have played admirably in Garcia’s absence. The Tampa running attack of Earnest Graham, Warrick Dunn, Michael Bennett, and Kenneth Darby is currently 6th in the league in the preseason, running for 142 yards per game.

On defense, the Buccaneers are no pushover. MLB Barrett Ruud was instrumental in causing a key fumble and had a near interception in the win over New England in Week 2. The defensive line is anchored by DEs Gaines Adams and Kevin Carter as well as DTs Jovan Haye and Chris Hovan. Through the first two games, the Buccaneers are taking advantage of turnovers and converting them into points. Things seem to be running on all cylinders for the Buccaneers, and that does not bode well for a Jaguars team who may be reading one too many of their press clippings on being Super Bowl contenders.

Look for an inspired effort by the Jaguars as most of their starters will play into third quarter. Both teams will want to run the ball and minimize turnovers on the wet Raymond James Field. If the Jaguars can establish some kind of a running game, they should come away with a 24-23 victory over Tampa Bay. If the offense continues to struggle as Garrard is under pressure and his wide receivers do not step up, the Buccaneers should win easily 23-16.

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