JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: Brock Bolen #44 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs onto the field during their season opener against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field on September 11, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Jacksonville Jaguars Beat Tennesse Titans 16-14

The Jaguars cut veteran starting quarterback David Garrard just days away from the regular season opener against the the Tennessee Titans, but they still managed to win the opening game of 2011.

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Jags Start Strong, Survive Late



The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) may not have looked dominant against one of the league's expected worst teams, the Tennessee Titans (0-1), but they came away with a win -- which is all the matters.

Luke McCown, making his first start of the season (taking the reigns from recently and suddenly cut David Garrard), played well enough to keep the team alive, but also played neither overwhelmingly good nor noticeably bad. Completing 17 of 24 attempts for 175 yards and no touchdowns or interception, McCown appeared average through feh-ness -- whereas David Garrard's averageness came on the merit of incredible, Holy-Cow! plays balanced out with terrible, Oh heavens no! plays.

McCown did have a pair of fumbles on the day, even loosing one on a quarterback sneak -- events that, if made a trend, will lead to an even quicker Blaine Gabbert appearance.

Maurice Jones-Drew and Deji Karim carried the offensive load on the day, running for a combined 120 yards (24 carries and 97 yards for Jones-Drew; 14 carries and 33 yards for Karim) and receiving another 39 (all Karim).

The Jaguars got up early, getting a 21-yard touchdown run out of Maurice Jones-Drew in the first quarter, but in the second, the Jags were only able to muster a 48-yard Josh Scobee field goal, giving the Jags a 10-0 lead at halftime.

In the second half, the Titans offense began gathering momentum. The Jags got another field goal to start the 3rd quarter, but Matt Hasselbeck connected with Kenny Britt on a broken pass play, leading to an 80-yard touchdown pass and a narrowed 13-7 lead.

After yet another Josh Scobee field goal (this one 45 yards), Matt Hasselbeck led the Titans down the field again, scoring another touchdown with Britt from the 2 yard line.

The Titans got the ball back, not trailing only 16-14, and began driving with 1:45 left in the game. Hasselbeck led the team almost to mid-field with 23 seconds left, but an ill-advised pass into deep double coverage gave Dwight Lowery an interception and guaranteed a Jaguars win.

The Jags play again next Sunday at 1:00 p.m., squaring off against the vaunted New York Jets.

For more Jaguars analysis, commentary, and community, check out Big Cat Country.

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Jaguars Vs. Titans Preview: Jaguars Hope To Start Season On Right Foot

Matchup: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans
Location: Everbank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Game Time: 1:00 PM EST
Coverage: CBS (distribution map), WJGL (Jags), WGFX (Titans)
Staff Prediction: 24-14 Jags

Earlier this week, Bradley Woodrum provided us with a full game preview for today’s game, listing five keys to the game for the Jaguars. Since the Jags just released quarterback David Garrard, he also provided some thoughts on how the Jaguars will adapt: Here’s a brief snippet:

The Titans, who endured a miserable 6-10 season last year, enter the season with a new quarterback (Matt Hasselbeck, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks), a new middle linebacker (Barrett Ruud of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and a new head coach (Mike Munchak, the former offensive line coach for the Titans).

The Jaguars have a tough season ahead of them, and starting with a loss to the Titans will make it even tougher. Cutting Garrard days before the team faces its first — and maybe only — gimme game of the season may prove regrettable.

For a game recap and analysis, follow along with SB Nation Tampa Bay on Twitter.

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Five Keys To The Jaguars-Titans Game

Matt Hasselbeck and the Tennessee Titans head to Jacksonville this Sunday to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. If the Jags want to come away with a win -- and, more importantly, if they want to start the season right -- they will need to perform well on these five key elements:

1) Protect Luke McCown.
The Jaguars have not really had the worst pass protection lately, but they are near the worst. Last season, the Jags allowed 17% more sacks per pass attempt than the league average. That's not good -- and it made life difficult for David Garrard (who, in all fairness produced a number of sacks on his own):

Image001_medium

Since 2009, the Jaguars have never had an above-average pass protection. As a part-result, Garrard seemed to always underplay his potential. If McCown (or Blaine Gabbert) intend to lead a successful season, they will need at least average pass protection to make up for the shortcomings elsewhere (specifically, in the WR corps and in their own lack of experience).

The Titans will hopefully make this task easier in Week 1 as some of their top pass rushers recover from injuries.

2) Stop the Chris Johnson
The Titans' top running back, sensation Chris Johnson, can and will take over games at will. He led the league in 2009 when he rushed for 2006 yards and managed over 125 yards rushing per game, but regressed in 2010, rushing for 1354 yards and a tick over 85 per game.

According to Football Outsiders, the Jaguars had the single worst defense in the league and the 4th worst rush defense. New personnel on the front line (Tyson Alualu) and the linebacking group (Clint Session) will hopefully provide a sufficient roadblock to what can be a ferocious Titans run game.

3) Get Jones-Drew Going
Let's face it: If the Jaguars win this year, it will be on the merit of outstanding play from Maurice Jones-Drew. Luke McCown may be serviceable -- heck, he may be even good -- but he's not a world-beater. Jones-Drew is.

Last year, Maurice Jones-Drew put up another 1300-yard season, but only managed 5 rushing touchdowns (and 2 receiving). Despite that, Football Outsiders ranked Jones-Drew's stats as 4th best in the 2010 season with nearly 240 Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) -- meaning, over the course of the season, Maurice added 240 yards that a typical or backup running back could have provided.

If the Jags want to win this Sunday -- and any Sundays this year -- they will need hearty helping of Jones-Drew.

4) Dominate the Passing Game
With the Titans, Matt Hasselbeck has a somehow worse supporting cast than in his time with the Seattle Seahawks. Outside of Chris Johnson, the Titans appear utterly bankrupt of elite offensive talent.

The Jaguars defense was epicly bad in pass protection last year, allowing an average of over 80 yards per game (Y/G) to the opponents' top wide receivers. The top receiver on the Titans staff this year is Nate Washington, who has a 36 Y/G career average.

What happens when a highly-moveable object on wheels gets hit by completely stopped and motionless force? Hopefully the Jags intercept a pass, but it's best to consult a physicist.

5) Get Powerful!
Last year, despite being the 2nd best run-blocking line in the league, the Jaguars were only 13th best in the league at power running, which is a running play "on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown."

In other words, the Jags were able to break big plays great, but could no assert their will in the short and crucial runs nearly as easily. This year, the offense has the potential of soul-crushing amazingness if they can balance this other aspect of their run game.

If the Jags can balance these five key aspects on Sunday, they can expect not just a win, but a blowout and a strong start to the 2011 season.


Jacksonville Jaguars Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Eben Britton back 09/07/2011

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
David Jones undisclosed 09/03/2011
Rashad Jennings knee 09/03/2011
D'Anthony Smith foot 09/03/2011

The Jaguars-Titans game begins at 1:00 p.m. ET. Follow Big Cat Country for more updates, analysis, and commentary on the 2011 Jaguars season.

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No David Garrard, No Problem?

The Jaguars cut veteran starting quarterback David Garrard just days away from the regular season opener against the the Tennessee Titans.

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