A long time ago, the Jaguars faced Kerry Collins on a football field in Canton, Ohio, when both were raw rookies. The Jaguars were in their inaugural season. Collins was the prized rookie, the very future of the Carolina Panthers.
You might remember that day in July of 1995. It was the Hall of Fame Game and the NFL's two newest franchises squared off in a preseason game of monumental importance and hype in Jacksonville and Charlotte, only because it was the first game of any kind either team had played.
The Panthers owned the first pick of that year's draft, after winning a coin toss against the Jaguars. The Panthers then traded that pick, moved down four spots and made Collins the fifth pick of a draft that would become one of the great drafts in NFL history.
Tony Boselli was made the second pick of that draft. That's germane to this story only because Boselli hasn't played a down since 2001. This Sunday, Collins will be the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans against, of course, the Jaguars.
By and large, Collins' career is considered to have been a disappointment. He's a bust, most would say. The stats, however, say differently. Busts don't play in the league for 16 seasons. Busts don't throw for over 39,000 yards. Busts don't attempt 6,000 passes, a milestone Collins will likely top this Sunday against the Jaguars.
Collins' career is one of the great head-scratchers in NFL history. He took the Panthers to the NFC title game in his second season. He took the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2000.
In a lot of ways, Collins has Hall of Fame-like numbers. He's closing on Johnny Unitas and 11th place all-time in passing yards. He's only 76 completions shy of passing Dan Fouts and moving into 10th place on the all-time completions list.
What happened to this guy that his career is viewed as a disappointment? Is that what happens when you're 6-5, 245 and you have the arm of a god? Do the expectations become overwhelming?
Whatever it is, this is not a man to be taken lightly. Just two seasons ago, he resurrected the Titans; he led them to nine consecutive wins and a 13-3 record. He's the guy Jeff Fisher wants under center and Collins is the guy that can rally the Titans in a season that is on the line this Sunday against the Jaguars at LP Field.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Titans.
1. Rush the quarterback—Collins may be all those things, but he's also soon to be 38 years old and mobility has long left his game.
2. Match him yard for yard—The Jaguars aren't likely to stop Chris Johnson, so it's critical that Maurice Jones-Drew at least matches Johnson's production.
3. Hit somebody—The last time these two teams played, the Titans did all the hitting.
4. Go after Finnegan—The officials will have their collective eye on him.
5. Hold Johnson under 200—The Jaguars didn't do that last season and that's why the Titans won this game.
6. Look at the calendar—It's December. It's time to play December football.
7. Ignore the other scores—The Colts play at 4:15. This is the only early game that matters.
8. Be on guard—Fisher always has a trick play up his sleeve.
9. Throw to score—The Titans are struggling in pass-defense.
10. Run to win—It's how you play December football on a beautifully crisp 40-degree day.