The AFC South foes have split their season series the past two years and usually find themselves in pretty competitive matchups.
2011 will be a bit different though as both teams will have different faces behind center. The Jaguars will obviously be without recently cut David Garrard and will have Luke McCown start. The Titans are without Vince Young or Kerry Collins. Instead, the aging Matt Hasselbeck (35) will be taking snaps for Tennessee.
Let's inspect exactly what the Titans look like offensively.
Hasselbeck is expected to start for the Titans. He had a mixed final season in Seattle, playing poorly in the regular season but the seven touchdowns to just one interception in the playoffs. When healthy, Hasselbeck is still a very capable quarterback in this league because of his accuracy and instincts. First-round pick Jake Locker had a really good preseason and the Jaguars could definitely see him in various packages.
Be wary Jacksonville fans, Chris Johnson is back. The most explosive runner in the game just ended his holdout and is apparently in game shape already. The Titans will monitor his carries but he'll be plenty involved in the offense. Javon Ringer, who is listed as probable, will get a nice amount of carries too. Ringer is a capable back with good quickness and toughness considering his diminutive stature (5-9, 207.)
Wide Receiver/ Tight End
Kenny Britt and Nate Washington are the starters for the Titans and they form a very nice, underrated duo. Britt's straight-line speed and size (6-3, 215) make him a threat to do some serious damage on deep passes. Washington also specializes in stretching the field. Lavelle Hawkins and Damian Williams will do damage as slot receivers because of their crafty route-running ability. Craig Stevens is a solid blocker at tight end with Jared Cook can do some damage as a pass-catcher.
The Titans are blessed with reliable bookends in tackles David Stewart and Michael Roos. Neither one is a physical phenom but both are heady players with excellent work ethic. Roos is one of the better left tackles in the game. Leroy Harris and Jake Scott aren't physically overwhelming either at the guard spots but are relentless blockers. Eugene Amano is very nimble at center although he can be overpowered.
Now we'll shift our attention to Tennessee's defense.
The Titans lost Jason Babin to free agency, meaning they'll be without their most productive lineman from 2010. Babin logged 12.5 sacks for Tennessee. Dave Ball had seven and will see an increased role as a pass-rush specialist. Jason Jones will start at right end and William Hayes will start opposite of him. Jones isn't much of a pass rusher but can dominate his side of the ball in the run game. Hayes has good burst but is somewhat of a weak link for the Titans.
Tennessee is weak internally. Shaun Smith (6-2, 325) is a prototypical one-technique because of his size and awesome strength but is a a liability against the pass. SenDerrick Marks is the other starter at tackle but is undersized and not great versus the point of attack.
This is a pretty good group overall. The Titans landed free agent linebacker Barrett Ruud and should be very happy with their acquisition. He's extremely productive and has a terrific motor. Will Witherspoon is a fantastic play maker as well and is very athletic. Throw in rookie head banger Akeem Ayers and the Titans have the makings of a very special LB unit.
Again, this is a pretty good group. Cortland Finnegan is one of the best corner backs in the NFL and a lot of that is due to his physicality. The guy is a decent athlete but is as aggressive a corner you will find. Safeties Michael Griffin and Chris Hope are both big hitters and game changers. Griffin does a nice job in coverage while Hope is more of a threat to come up into the box and stop the run. Jason McCourty has phenomenal speed and fluidity, and he has the makings of a top cornerback although his instincts have kept him from being an impact player. Alterraun Verner is the nickel back but is also capable of starting.
Tags: Barrett Ruud, Chris Johnson, Cortland Finnegan, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kenny Britt, Matt Hasselbeck, NFL, Tennessee Titans