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Prime time matchup


Prime time matchup

The Jaguars host the Baltimore Ravens on ESPN Monday Night Football on October 24, the fifth time in the last six seasons the Jaguars will play on Monday night and the 14th time overall. 

The Jaguars will host two Monday Night Football games in 2011 for only the third time in franchise history (1998, 2006).  San Diego visits Jacksonville on Monday, December 5.  This Monday's game will be the Jaguars' 29th nationally televised prime time game in their 17 seasons, with at least one each season. The team has posted a prime time record of 13-15 including 4-7 under head coach Jack Del Rio.

"It's always good to play under the lights. I've always liked that," Del Rio said. "When you get to play in front of your peers, and Sunday night has taken on that type of feel as well, but you play Sunday or Monday night and you're in a national game, I think it has a little more excitement to it. Our guys will be fired up at the opportunity."

Improved defense

One of the top offseason priorities for Jaguars general manager Gene Smith was improving the defensive side of the ball.  The Jaguars added four new starters in Paul Posluszny, Clint Session, Dwight Lowery and Dawan Landry, and Matt Roth and Drew Coleman have also made starts in 2011.

Here's a look at the Jaguars defensive totals after six games compared to the 2010 season:

*                                                                           2010             2011*

Yards per game                                            374.8           325.3

Rushing                                                           111.2           115.0

Passing                                                            263.7           210.3

Sacks                                                                      11                 11

Interceptions                                                         4                    6

Completions of 25-plus yards                      17                 12

Passer rating                                                 110.0              85.7

Touchdown passes                                          14                    9

Rushes of 10-plus yards                                 20                 14

Third down conversion pct.                       45.5              40.2

Touchdowns                                                       21                 14

Points per game                                             27.8              22.0

Jaguars offense goes against NFL's best

The Jaguars are concluding a three-game stretch against the NFL's top three ranked defenses.  The Bengals led the NFL in total defense when they visited Jacksonville in week five and are currently second.  The Steelers were second entering last Sunday's game and now lead the league.  The Ravens enter Monday's game with the league's top scoring defense (14.2 avg.) and allow only 286.2 yards per game which is the third-fewest in the league.

Following Monday's game, the Jaguars will have faced five of the top 11 defenses in the NFL based on the current rankings. 

Jaguars have no complaints with Posluszny

The Jaguars had a good idea what they were getting with the addition of fifth-year linebacker Paul Posluszny, but he might have exceeded the expectations.  What do the numbers 14, 12, 16, 15 and 19 mean?  Those are Posluszny's tackle totals in the last five games. 

Posluszny was signed as an unrestricted free agent after spending four years with Buffalo.  In his first six games with the Jaguars he has produced a team-high 80 tackles along with three tackles for loss, two passes defensed and one sack.  He tallied double-digit tackles in five of the first six games including 19 last Sunday at Pittsburgh. 

"He's smart, he's vocal, he understands the defense, the defensive calls," Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said.  "He can get us lined up quickly. He can make the adjustments that we need to make.  He's got leadership abilities. He's active, he can make plays, he's physical, he runs well.

"He's a guy that want you want at that position and so he's a good fit for us and I'm glad he's here and again, he's another guy he's never satisfied. He's always looking to get better and I would say that's a characteristic of the guys that we have in that room."

Did you know?  Part one

Josh Scobee is one of four kickers to not miss a field goal through six weeks (min. 10 attempts), joining Green Bay's Mason Crosby (10 of 10), Chicago's Robbie Gould (13 of 13) and San Diego's Nick Novak (11 of 11).   Scobee is 10 of 10 including six field goals from 40-plus yards.

Positives to take away from loss at Pittsburgh

Sunday's game at Pittsburgh didn't start the way the Jaguars envisioned from an offensive or defensive perspective but the club turned it around in the second half. 

The Jaguars shut out the Steelers for the remainder of the game after allowing 17 points on their first three possessions. The Steelers totaled 226 yards and 10 first downs on their first three drives of the game.  In their eight ensuing possessions, they managed only 144 yards, five first downs and were forced to punt six times.  In the second half, the Jaguars outscored the Steelers 10-0 and held the Steelers to only 55 total yards and three first downs.   The Steelers punted on all five possessions in the second half. 

Offensively, the Jaguars' only drive that resulted in a touchdown was a blueprint for success, and it almost didn't happen.   The Jaguars retained possession after five plays when the Steelers were called for a roughing the kicker penalty on Jaguars punter Nick Harris. 

The Jaguars controlled the ball for 9:35 on the drive and maneuvered 75 yards on 17 plays with the last an 18-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to Jason Hill.  Of the 17 plays, 12 were rushes and two were completions including the touchdown pass. 

The 17-play drive was the longest of the season for the Jaguars and tied for the sixth-longest in franchise history. 

Jones-Drew keeps running along

It's no secret the Jaguars rank 32nd in total offense after six weeks but the play of running back Maurice Jones-Drew can't be overlooked.  Jones-Drew is averaging 95.3 rushing yards per game and is the only player in the NFL to have at least 84 rushing yards in each of the first six games. 

The sixth-year pro ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards (572), tied for second in rushes of 10-plus yards (17) and 10th in yards from scrimmage (647).  He had a streak of three straight games with a run of at least 25 yards snapped on Sunday at Pittsburgh although he had a 19-yard run against the Steelers.

Chick's gamble pays off

First-year defensive end John Chick never doubted he could play in the NFL if given the opportunity, but he also has a family that includes four children and another one on the way.  At 28 years old, Chick reached a crossroads in his career.

Chick played three seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Saskatchewan RoughRiders and was named the CFL's Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2009.  But he wanted to move on and try to make a living in the NFL.  He was signed by the Colts and spent the entire 2010 season on the practice squad before he was waived on final cuts in December. 

It was decision time.  He could return to the CFL and make guaranteed money or keep pursuing his NFL dream.  He opted to sign with the Jaguars and was placed on the practice squad on Sept. 5.  Two days later he was activated to the 53-man roster and has seen extensive action in the first six games.  He has a sack in back-to-back games including a sack/forced fumble of Ben Roethlisberger last Sunday at Pittsburgh. 

"He has great snap anticipation," Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said.  "High energy guy.  What he has he will give you every single day."

"I like the way he's working," Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said. "He's effort-filled. He's a competitive guy. He cares, he's smart, he's aware, he's done a nice job here fitting in and finding a role."

Did you know? Part two

Center Brad Meester has played in 17 of the Jaguars' 28 nationally televised prime time games including eight Monday night games. 

Series history

The Jaguars lead the overall series with the Ravens, 9-7, but have lost seven of the last eight games.  The clubs met twice annually from 1996 to 2001 as members of the AFC Central where the Jaguars claimed two division titles (1998, 1999).

Monday will be the Jaguars' third consecutive game against an AFC North team and fourth straight against a team with a winning record heading into week seven.  The Jaguars travel to Houston (3-3) on Sunday, October 30 before observing their bye week.  

Landry faces former team

Jaguars safety Dawan Landry was a fifth-round draft pick of the Ravens in 2006 and spent five seasons with the club.  Landry started 64 of 66 games for the Ravens and recorded 387 tackles, nine interceptions and 34 passes defensed.  He ranked second on the team with a career-high 111 tackles in 2010.  He signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent on July 31.

Landry played in eight Monday Night Football games and 13 nationally televised prime time games with the Ravens.  He had a career-long 48-yard interception return on Nov. 16, 2009 at Cleveland on Monday Night Football. 

What to look for

  • Maurice Jones-Drew needs six yards from scrimmage to reach 8,000 for his career in his 84th career game, joining Fred Taylor (13,632, 140 games) and Jimmy Smith (12,286, 171 games) as the only players in franchise history to reach that milestone. 
  • Jones-Drew has played in eight nationally televised prime time games in his six seasons.  He has four rushing touchdowns and one 100-yard rushing outing (110, Dec. 17, 2009 vs. Indianapolis).
  • Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has thrown a touchdown pass in each of his first four starts. 
  • Wide receiver Jason Hill has a touchdown reception in back-to-back games.  
  • Cornerback Rashean Mathis has four interceptions in nine career prime time games.
  • The Jaguars defense has registered seven sacks and four interceptions in three home games this season.
  • Safety Dwight Lowery, who has played in five Monday Night Football games, had an interception in two of his first three games at EverBank Field as a member of the Jaguars.
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