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Week 1 Max on Jax

In an eerie instance of déjà* *vu, the Jacksonville Jaguars dropped their opening game to the Tennessee Titans, souring the start of what many within the organization thought would be a very special season. For the second year in a row, the Titans physically dominated action, outrushing the Jaguars 137 to 33. The Jaguars’ vaunted running back tandem of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew had just a combined 31 yards on 14 carries, while the Titans duo with LenDale White and rookie Chris Johnson managed 133 yards on 30 carries.

Both offenses struggled mightily. The Jaguars managed just 10 points despite having tremendous starting field position all day. Garrard was sacked seven times and committed three turnovers, equal to his total number of interceptions all of last year. Josh Scobee missed on a 37-yard field goal and the Jaguars’ only touchdown came on a drive beginning at the Titans’ 5-yd line, setup by the first of two interceptions thrown by Vince Young.

For Tennessee, Young’s woes went far beyond the two giveaways. He missed badly on at least three easy passes that could have led to more points but instead led to boos showering down from the hometown fans. And to top it off, Young left the game with a sprained left knee late in the fourth quarter. The severity of the injury is not yet known.

Nevertheless, the Titans won the game and sit alone at the top of the AFC South. For the Jaguars, the good news is a bit more scant. At least they only need look to themselves a year ago for an example of a team bouncing back after a physical beat down in week one. And all the other major AFC contenders were losers as well: Chargers lost to the Panthers, Colts lost to the Bears, and Patriots lost Tom Brady.

But the bad news looms much larger. Left guard Vince Manuwai is finished for the year with a ruptured ACL, and right guard Maurice Williams could suffer the same fate as Del Rio considers placing him on the IR with a torn biceps injury. Andy Heck and Dirk Koetter will have their hands full working with what’s left of the offensive line. Already without starting center Brad Meester for at least the next month and top backup tackle Richard Collier fighting for his life in the hospital, the Jaguars knew they needed the unit to stay healthy. So the loss of both starting guards at a time like this is particularly devastating, not to mention backup guard Uche Nwaneri’s minor knee sprain during yesterday’s loss.

Nwaneri returned to action later in the game and will likely be counted on, along with journeyman Tutan Reyes, to fill both starting positions against Buffalo.

It’s gut check time for the Jaguars, and if they still hope to salvage this very special season, those that are left standing will have to turn things around quickly, while many of their comrades can do nothing more than cheer from the sidelines.

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