If early results this season mean anything, then NFL owners might be wise to investigate the apparent advantages of having a youthful roster.
Consider these facts:
• Eight teams in the league began the season with 10 or more rookies on their roster. Those teams are: Baltimore (19), New York Giants (13), Houston (11), San Diego (11), Tennessee (11), Buffalo (10), Cleveland (10) and Indianapolis (10). The combined won-lost record of those teams is 15-15.
Meanwhile, eight teams began the year with six or fewer rookies on their roster. Those teams are: Cincinnati (6), Atlanta (6), St. Louis (6), Washington (6), New England (5), Oakland (5), Kansas City (4) and Miami (4). The combined won-lost record of those teams is 13-16.
That doesn't represent much of a difference in the standings, but consider the huge salary cap advantage the first group has over the second group. If you can get by with rookies, not only are you developing players for your team's future, you're also providing space on your team's future salary caps.
The Jaguars began the year with seven rookies on their roster. In an obvious salary-cap repair year, the Jaguars roster is dominated by minimum-wage or near-minimum-wage veterans. And the Jaguars are an impressive 2-1, victories having come against Kansas City and the New York Jets, two horribly capped-out teams whose rosters are heavy with veterans and light with young talent (the Jets had eight rookies on their opening-day roster).
We'll keep an eye on these numbers and see how they develop as the year goes on. They may turn out to mean nothing, or maybe they'll mean everything. We'll see.
Now, here's this week's "10 things" the Jaguars must do to beat the Philadelphia Eagles.
- Have a solid McNabb plan--And what might that be? Disguise coverages? Use the spy technique? Rush three and drop eight? Rush 11 and drop nine? See the second "thing" for the answer.
- Run the ball--It's what the Jaguars do best (fourth in the league), and it would sure help to keep McNabb off the field.
- Pray for a windy day--Eagles kicker David Akers is nine-for-nine in field-goal attempts. The Jaguars may need a "Nor'easter" to level the field goal matchup.
- Go deep--Eagles cornerbacks Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent may be the best pair in the league. As is usually the case with the good ones, Taylor and Vincent are very aggressive in their coverage. Make them play the whole field.
- Establish field position--McNabb must be denied short-field opportunities. Jaguars punter Chris Hanson leads the AFC with a 39.8 net average and rookie kicker Hayden Epstein is second in the AFC with seven touchbacks. Hanson's and Epstein's contributions will never be more important than they will be this Sunday.
- Look at the Titans tape--It's the only game the Eagles have lost this year, after getting out to a big lead. What did the Titans do?
- Come on people now--Go on down to Winn-Dixie for some prune juice and a couple of tickets. Use the tickets, save the prune juice.
- Don't rush the quarterback--McNabb will just run away. Coverage is the key.
- Count on Brunell--He's one of the game's premier veteran quarterbacks. Big games rest on the shoulders of the quarterback.
- Count on Coughlin--He's a master strategist and the Eagles are clearly an X's and O's kind of team.