The Jaguars and Titans have always managed to produce drama for their games and Sunday's clash at LP Field has been super-charged by the announcement late this week that Vince Young will be the Titans' starting quarterback.
Bingo! An otherwise nondescript game between a 3-3 team in a rebuilding year and an 0-6 team that is coming off a 59-0 thrashing that wasn't as close as the final score would indicate was instantly made exciting by Young's reinstatement. All of a sudden, a game that was likely to produce major no-shows is now likely to generate an excited crowd.
They'll be coming to see the 2006 NFL offensive rookie of the year. They'll be coming to see the third pick of the '06 draft and to find out if he can still be the Titans' quarterback of the future.
That future was clouded in last year's season-opener, though the Titans beat the Jaguars in that game. Young, however, played poorly and lost his starting job to Kerry Collins, who led the Titans to a 13-3 record that was the best in the NFL.
Collins' run has ended in the face of eight interceptions and a 62.0 passer rating this season, but the Titans defense has been even more disappointing. Coach Jeff Fisher's defense is 31st in the league and dead last against the pass. Make no mistake, this is not a Fisher-like defense.
How do they improve their pass-defense? That's a question the Jaguars could also ask of themselves, for the Jaguars are one notch above the Titans in the pass-defense rankings.
The Jaguars' hope is that quarterback David Garrard will overmatch Young, who has never played well against the Jaguars. Garrard and his rebuilt receiving corps have made consistent strides forward in the last month.
"We're not trying to put up 40, 50 points. We're just trying to win," Garrard said. "You win ballgames and you'll get all the love you want. Winning is the cure for everything."
The Titans haven't won a game since the next-to-last week of the 2008 regular season, when the Titans beat the Steelers, claimed homefield advantage for the playoffs and, in the process, stomped on the Steelers' "Terrible Towel." Since then, the Titans have lost eight times.
Fisher joked to reporters that at a recent event he made comments "regarding the 'Terrible Towel' to (Tony) Dungy, and that I was interested in the mystique about it and I wanted him to inform the Steelers family that we've enshrined one here in the building and I have one hanging in my driveway because we haven't won a game since we stomped on it."
Will the Titans finally win one this week? That's the question but the answer will involve a lot more than a win or a loss. At stake for the Jaguars would seem to be whatever hope the team has of becoming a playoff contender. At stake for Young and the Titans is the future.