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Strategies in the spotlight


The last time the Jaguars played against the Titans, rookie quarterback Vince Young played a major role in the outcome. Young threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and compiled a passer rating of 30.2 in leading the Titans to a 37-7 loss.

That was back on Nov. 5. Since then, the Titans have won four of their last five games and four in a row, and Young's scrambling runs have been the catalyst to the Titans' new-found success.

So what will the Jaguars do to stop Young this Sunday?

"He's going to run regardless," defensive end Paul Spicer said. "That's what he's going to do. He's going to run. That's what he does best. We're going to have a few wrinkles in the defense for him. On the defensive line, we want to collapse the pocket."

Young and the Titans will host the Jaguars this Sunday in a game of critical importance in this year's wild-card playoff race. At 8-5, the Jaguars have the lead for one of two wild-card spots in the AFC. A win over the Titans could put the Jaguars on the verge of clinching a playoff spot.

The Titans, however, aren't playing the role of a spoiler. At 6-7, Jeff Fisher's team is still in the wild-card race and could draw within a game of the Jaguars with a win on Sunday.

This is also a game that represents the future of the AFC South. The Jaguars are on the verge of becoming a playoff fixture. The Titans are on the way up. This Sunday's game could be a preview of next year's AFC South title race.

Tennessee's future rests on Young, the third pick of this year's draft. Is he truly a quarterback with a bright future as a passer, or just a rookie scrambling for some yards?

In the Titans' most recent win, Young scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime on a 39-yard dash. The Texans were in an all-out blitz on the play.

"He sidestepped a guy and outran the rest," Del Rio said.

Cancel the all-out blitz as a strategy for defensing Young. Cancel just about anything that's been used to this point, including that old favorite, the spy technique.

"I'm not sure there was anything exotic done," head coach Jack Del Rio said of the defensive strategy the Jaguars used to hold Young to 14 yards rushing on four attempts in that lopsided win at Alltel Stadium.

"He's just using his abilities. If you have the ability to run and you don't like what you see, take off and run," Jaguars quarterback David Garrard said.

Garrard is also an accomplished runner, but Garrard knows that as time passes he must become a better passer than runner.

"I try to stay in the pocket or move enough to let the guys come open," Garrard said.

In the previous meeting between the two teams, the Titans loaded up against the Jaguars running game and dared Garrard to pass. Garrard made the Titans pay for that error in strategy, burning the Titans for three touchdown passes and a 120.6 passer rating. The score reached 37-0 in the third quarter when the Jags called off the dogs and allowed Young some mop-up stats.

What strategy goes Garrard expect the Titans to employ this Sunday?

"Pretty much the same thing. They have a certain way to play us and we have to be ready for it. They play other teams differently. They play a lot of 'cover two,'" Garrard said, referring to a less aggressive pass-defense strategy the Titans use against other teams.

"If we see that," Garrard added of the press-coverage technique the Titans used in the first game, "we'll put the ball in the air and get it to our receivers."

The Titans are likely to dare the Jaguars to pass. The Jaguars have to stop the Titans quarterback from running.

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