Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Why the Jags Rule (This Week)

Again, apparently, yesterday's debate over who the best 2-0 team in the NFL is was premature:

After last night, the best 2-0 team in the NFL is obvious:

The Jaguars.
Did I pick the right moment to sit shotgun on the bandwagon or what?

How do I defend this claim of the Jags as the NFL's best 2-0 team, particularly because the Jags' offense isn't nearly as good as some of the other 2-0 teams?

I'm going to lean on one key metric: Strength of schedule.

Of all the 2-0 teams, the Jags have BY FAR had the toughest pair of games: the Cowboys and the defending champ Steelers, arguably the toughest opening schedule of any 2-0 team.

Look at the schedule comps among 2-0 teams:

Falcons: 0-2 Panthers and 0-2 Bucs?
Saints: 0-2 Browns and 0-2 Packers?
Bears: 0-2 Packers and 0-2 Lions?
Ravens: 0-2 Bucs and 0-2 Raiders?
Bengals: 0-2 Chiefs and 0-2 Browns?
Chargers: 0-2 Raiders and 0-2 Titans?
Seahawks: 0-2 Lions and 1-1 Cardinals?
Colts: 0-2 Texans and 1-1 Giants?
Pats: 1-1 Bills and 1-1 Jets?

Be honest: This is dog-shit competition compared to the Jags' first two games.

The Jags' opponents have combined for as many wins as the Falcons', Saints', Bears', Ravens', Bengals', Chargers', Seahawks' and Colts' opponents all put together.

That's why most fans can't take the Chargers or Ravens or Bears seriously yet, even though they look among the Top 5 teams in the NFL.

(Here's what those teams – and the Jags – all have in common: Ridiculously awesome defense. But none of the other 3 proved it against competition of the quality that the Jags have so far.)

The NFL's best team after 2 weeks?
Check the schedule: The Jags.

-- D.S.


Joe said...

And yet if they can't beat the Colts on Sunday, they'll be the league's best "yeah, but..." team. Amazing how those hurdle games can change everything.

Josh said...

No way. No frickin way. The Falcons schedule is at least as hard. TWO RETURNING PLAYOFF TEAMS IN THEIR OWN DIVISION! They are divisional games! NFC South is good! You need to get off Jax' nuts.

Nobody will take the Jags seriously until they can score points and/or beat the Colts. And seriously, beat the Steelers with a healthy Big Ben. He wasn't healthy at all last night and still almost won the game.

The Jags suck. Way to pick a loser Shanoff.

Brien said...


You're missing one key point ... it doesn't matter who you play ... you still have to win.

I argue that the Chargers are the best 2-0 team, not because of their strength of schedule, but because they whupped two teams that they should have whupped.

That's the argument you often hear in college ... that Team A is better than Team B because Team A crushes weak sisters, while Team B barely beats cupcakes.

In the NFL, strength of schedule is a crock. The difference between the very best team and the very worst team is not as great as it is in college. The Raiders, bad as they have been, possess NFL-quality talent, and can truly defeat any team on any given Sunday.

The Chargers have done what great teams do ... dominate weaker opponents when they are supposed to. They've run the ball very well (who wouldn't, with LT?), and Philip Rivers has done well in his first two games. The defense has been stifling ... as it should be against weaker foes.

I don't quite understand why the Bolts aren't getting any love. They've done what you expect a team to do against the Titans and Raiders ... beat them severely. What else could you ask for out of a 2-0 team?

Anonymous said...

before you hurt your arm patting yourself on the back, Roethlisberger had a 104 degree temp and of course it was his first game of the season.

I think ATL's wins are more impressive considering no one really picked them to do anything and they beat two playoff teams from a year ago.

Brien said...

Roethlisberger had a 104 degree temp and of course it was his first game of the season.

If he was out there on the field, then there's no excusing his performance. If he was too ill, or too out-of-practice to perform well enough to lead the Steelers to a win, then Charlie Batch should have been starting.

My wife is a huge (say it like Al Michaels ... "youuuuuge") Steelers fan, and her first reaction to how the Steelers were playing was this:

"Boy, do we miss The Bus ..."

The Stillers simply couldn't establish the run ... and the Jags were *begging* Roethlisberger to beat them. Then, when the Steelers got behind late, they sat back and waited for the passing game.

Great game plan by Del Rio and his staff ... and a blueprint for how you attack the Steelers this season.


Sheldiz said...

i'm still giving love to the Ravens. No one has scored a TD on them yet. I have to agree w/ Brien re: the strength of schedule issue. it's the NFL, every team should be able to score one touchdown against every other team, at the very least.

Christian Thoma said...

Unfortunately for Jags fans, they don't award playoff spots for being the best team after 2 games. They're going to have to score a lot more than 9 points to beat the Colts this weekend.

Lew said...

How can you rank teams on strength of schedule based on week 2? Seriously, there are many teams that have gone 0-2 and made the playoffs and ended up with a winning record.

Anonymous said...

my point was that Shanoff was proclaiming that the Jags had played two great teams compared to everyone else, but the Steelers didn't play like a great team bc of Big Ben and no run game.

The Jags are a good team but I wouldn't put them at the top just yet.

Proclaiming greatness after week 2 doesn't make sense.

Mega said...

I still have to go with Atlanta. They have a great defense and an awesome running game. The Jags are always underrated though.

Hox said...

Listed among the "dog-shit" competition of the Jags:
Pats: 1-1 Bills and 1-1 Jets?
Gee, I wonder who the Bills and Jets got their losses. The Packers?
If the Jags get past the Colts (as opposed to a Steelers squad with a 50% Big Ben), the Jags will deserve being named among the best in the NFL.

FreKy J said...

Here's a news flash. No current 2-0 team can claim to have strength of schedule, because at the most, the teams they've played can only be both 1-1. Your claims of strenght of schedule are based on last year's success and this year's dreams.

If you're talking the best 2-0 teams that have looked the best after 2 games, you have to say Atlanta or San Diego. The Jags did look good, and were even able to score 3 times (albeit FGs) on the very good Pittsburgh defense, but they didn't look impressively all around. Not just yet. If they down the Colts, then we can start talking.

Charlie (Seattle) said...

I don't think the Steelers missed The Bus. The Jags were loading up on the run since the passing game was non-existant. We all know that you can't have a good run game if the passing game isn't there, and vica versa.

I think that Big Ben should not have been playing. Fever, bla bla, appendix, bla bla. I'm not debating that he was hurt, and it was very clear that he was not on his game. I just think he should've sat. There shouldn't be a QB controversy, but they should've let him get back to at least closer to %100. He's a better QB than Batch, but that's when they're both healthy.

We have to remember that this is his first game, going against a good D, and he was NOT %100. Cower made a big mistake, I think they would've won with Batch starting.

Brian in Oxford said...

Seems kinda instant-history, tongue-in-cheek....classic Dan. Of course, only the Pats have *also* beaten two teams that won their other game, so does that make them second-best? (I'll take it!)

Matt Berg said...

As you pointed out here with Texas, teams ought to be ranked based on who they can beat, not necessarily who they have beaten. So with the Jags, they can probably beat half the other 2-0 teams, but probably not the Ravens, Chargers, Colts, or Patriots. We'll see this Sunday.

BGG34 said...

When do Tony and Theisman come to blows in the booth?

wildpitch_20 said...

Can you believe this Dan? Still no respect. We just shut out the defending champ on MNF and no love from the general football public.

"but the Steelers didn't play like a great team bc of Big Ben and no run game."

Hmmm could that possibly be because the Jags defense SHUT DOWN their running game? No the steelers must have just been tripping over themselves.

"They're going to have to score a lot more than 9 points to beat the Colts this weekend."

Well they were playing a defense that it's team road to the super bowl title last year. And check out week one- thy scored 24 points against a very good cowboys defense- better than the colts d. And they may not have to scor that much more than 9 points, last year they held the Colts to 10 in the second game of the year.

Actions speak louder than words though so I'll let the Teal Curtain do all the talkin.

D. Ling said...

Ric Flair says....
"To be The Man, you have to Beat The Man"
The Jags beat the defending champs, which was nice but everyone is pointing at the Colts as the team to beat in '06/'07 so I refuse to drink the Teal Kool Aid until they meet up with Peyton in Indy.

Scott Renshaw said...

Your breakdown of the 2-0 teams schedules points out some issues that appear to be taking shape this year that must have the NFL crapping its collective pants. First, the "parity" mantra has apparently vanished entirely. You have a lot of terrific-looking teams, a couple of mediocre ones, and a lot of teams that might not give West Virginia a decent game. When is the last time a season began with so many teams -- Bucs, Raiders, Titans, Browns, Lions -- looking like they don't deserve to win a game?

Second, offense has been virtually non-existent. How many games in the first two weeks have involved games where teams won without scoring a touchdown? I can think of Rams and Seahawks (Week 1), Jags last night, Broncos over Chiefs just off the top of my head. There are some great-looking defenses, sure, but they're looking a lot better playing in the League That Can't Shoot Straight.

And this is why, irrespective of "who looks best in Week 2", the Chargers appear to have the clearest path to a playoff spot. Obviously they face a couple of huge post-bye week games in Baltimore and Pittsburgh, where we'll see what happens when Rivers faces some real defensive pressure for the first time. But the Chargers play more than a third of their schedule against teams that make the Ravens Super Bowl team look like Air Coryell. *If* Trent Green returns, and *if* Denver ever manages to put someone under center who doesn't explode on contact, there might be someone else in the AFC West who could put a few points on the board. But I'd be willing to take a teaser right now that the Chargers sweep the division games.

Trey (formerly TF) said...

Of course the Jags get good a few years AFTER I graduate from UF.

For a few years there we only got TWO NFL games on saturday because Gainesville got the Jacksonville CBS and every game was frickin blacked out.

They look good.


Anonymous said...

hey Jags fans, get over it already.

Yes it was a good win last night. Yes Jax is a good team.

But make some deep runs in the playoffs, win some AFC Championships.

Asking to be treated like kings after week 2 is premature.

Ken said...


I think you should write a post about the Daily Quickie Readers' groups on ESPN for the college pick 'em, NFL pick 'em and NFL eliminator. Who's doing well and who's shit the bed? How are you doing? Is Ron Jaworski's team name (Jaworskins) the best name ever?

What do you think, is this something that could kill an afternoon for you? It's certainly made me look busy at work.

- Ken

marcomarco said...

Asking to be treated like kings after week 2 is premature.

Premature E-jax-ulation?


Manada said...

The Packers are still the team to beat!

What?! This isn't 1999?

Then lets go with hmmm.....the Colts.

LudaKris said...

SMOKING MIRRORS...dont believe the hype. This is still the same Jags team as the previous years, where they have a good run in the regular season and shit the bed in the post-season. For all of Jack Del Rio talk about being a great coach, whats his post season record? Until then I think of Jack Del Rio the way I look at Peyton Manning, CANT WIN THE BIG GAME. So jump on the bandwagon now, so at the end of the season you will see a monumental crash.

Kristopher (Tampa, FL)

LudaKris said...

Jack Del Rio post season record 0-1. Got SPANKED by New Englad after first round bye 28-3.

Mark (Austin, TX) said...

Isn't this the fun part of blogs and sites like this? Being able to sit here a debate who is first, second, etc etc etc. The point is that after 2 weeks, of course we don't know for sure who is better than anyone else cause well, its only been 2 weeks. But it is a lot of fun to debate and specualte.

To me Jacksonville is probably 3rd best right now in a field where the top 5 (Chicago, Cincy, Indy, Jacksonville, San Diego) are probably interchangable and where to Top 10 could probably be drawn at random and you could make a case for it being right. The teams are just too close and there haven't been enough games.

Cincysportsfan said...

My top 2-0 teams based on performance:

1. Indy
2. Atlanta
3. Jacksonville
4. The rest......

This week should be telling:

Needless to say Baltimore will dominate the Browns, being the only given 3-0 team.

The Indy/Jack winner, Cincy, Sea, and Atl will establish themselves as top 5 teams with wins this week along with Balt or the Chi/Minn winner.

paul.j.stevens said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
paul.j.stevens said...

OK first off the Jags are top 5 no matter what. The best team? Still going to be Indy as, when on turf, have fun trying to stop them. They have a servicable D. The next 3 teams? Bengals/Ravens/Jags. Pick your poison from these three as to who's better. Yes the Jags have beaten better teams. But the Ravens D has outscored the Jags O almost. and Cincy = Indy Light. At 5 you have to go with the Bears. The Falcons are in the mix but I am sorry they have beat 2 teams that are muddled in finding themselves. Plus if Chicago were to play ATL on a neutral field who are you taking? Urlacher and said run stopping Defense? Or Vick and I can't beat you thru the air offense? Edge Bears.

Bigger question about last nights game: What does this mean for the Steelers? I had predicted to my friends ( and put my money where my mouth is ) that they will MISS the playoffs out right. Killer Schedule, loss of the Bus who was an identity for this team. People are going to put 8 in the box and DARE Ben to beat them thru the air. How'd that work out last night? They could end up going 9-7 and *STILL* miss the playoffs in the AFC. Are they done? Is this the blueprint? Was it just a one time thing? You tell me

Scott Renshaw said...

Just an addendum to my previous post about lousy offense. In 32 games so far -- 64 total team-games -- there have been *14* performances in which teams failed to score an offensive touchdown. Nearly 25% of the time an offense takes the field, it will not reach the end zone. How's that for some fantasy football.

Sheldiz said...

(Sidebar b/c i have no where else to rant about this: i STILL can't get over how expensive NFL tickets are... i shouldn't have to sell my car to get to a Ravens game this year.)

anyway, carry on....

Jeff said...

Wanted to point out you forgot:

Vikings: 0-2 Redskins and 0-2 Panthers?

This shows that you really don't know much after week 2 because the Vikings have beaten two of the top 4 NFC teams from last year(based on last year's playoffs), but are they being considered one of the best teams this year? Oviously not if you can't even remember that they are 2-0!

wildpitch_20 said...

isiah thomas [if that's really even you! ;)]:

What do you mean the same old Jags that have great regular seasons then fold in the playoffs? They've had 1 playoff game under Jack Del Rio and yes they lost it in embarrassing fashion but that team was a shell of the 12-4 team during the regular season. It wa Leftwich's first game back from injury. Mike Peterson was playing with 1 arm. Khalif Barnes played with a freaking broken leg. And they won't even be at full strength this year with Reggie Hayward on the IR. Let's wait until we have some concrete evidence before we label these guys chokers.

wildpitch_20 said...

I want to point out too that stength of schedule cannot be based on stats at this point in the season, it has to be based on feel. If you've beaten 2 teams that are 1-1 that means they are undefeated in games against the rest of the league. And you can't play San Diego and Baltimore for crushing weaker teams. I don't think you can rank teams so much as you can group them until you get to week 5 or 6.

cbabob said...

Notes: Roth's temp was 100.4 - confirmed this AM - not 104.0

Comparing records is ridiculous - they have played 2 GAMES! Atlanta's sched is at least as good as Jax. I'm not going to take anything away from Jax - they are good, but to say they are the best b/c they won 2 games - that's just stupid.