Speaking With The Enemy

Posted by rich on January 10th, 2008

I am not ashamed to say that I love another guy. There are a few of them that are like brothers to me, and I am comfortable enough to say so.

My buddy Ando is one of those guys. Ando and I met on my first day at Liberty University and we hit it off right away. Within a week or two we were hanging out, and later we would become roommates. As old friends go, Ando is right at the top of the list, he’d take a bullet for you and then tell you how stupid you were to get shot at. Of course he owes a great deal of the fact that he has a family today to me, because if I hadn’t been there to cover his hole-filled stories for staying off-campus night after night he may not be married today.

So what does this have to do with anything? Well, you see Andy lived in Florida for a few years and became a diehard Jaguars fan. He came up to watch the playoff game with me a two years ago, when the Pats killed the Jags, and despite being an otherwise intelligent human being, he actually thinks his favorite team has a shot to end the Patriots to greatness. (I know, I feel sorry for him too.)

Anyways, I had a chance to speak with Andy the other day as he pretended to work at his desk for the newspaper he works at, and the following is his thoughts on the big game.

The first thing that Andy is really hanging his hat on is that the Jags “have nothing to lose.” Forget the fact that they actually have an NFL playoff game to lose, and potential playoff checks, and fame and fortune and notoriety should they pull off the unthinkable. Let’s just play along.

“They returned on Sunday at 5 AM totally exhausted. They go and play golf that afternoon, talking about their first playoff game and now they’re totally focused (on the Pats). They face arguably the greatest team in NFL history. They have nothing to lose. If they lose the game, they were supposed to, right. So they’re going to be loose and just go out there and pound the football and see what happens.”

Ando, stop me, your confidence is sickening.

Next, he thinks that somehow the cold weather is going to be a factor to benefit his team. Because Jacksonville likes to run the ball, Ando believes that the New England weather is going to favor the Jags. Yup, a team that resides in Florida is going to benefit from the cold.

“Its likely going to be 20 degrees, and windy, and the ball is going to feel like an atomic rock for Tom Brady,” he said.

Well, let’s forget for a moment that Brady has had some of his most memorable moments in crappy weather (apparently Andy wasn’t watching football back in 2002 when the Pats beat the Raiders and Brady threw the ball all over the place). I’m with you so far Andy, nothing to lose, and bad weather is good for Jacksonville (by the way, 35-degrees at game time, 10-percent chance of precipitation, a slight breeze). “The conditions could very well make it a push. It could level the playing field,” he said.

Next up, Andy is playing the youth card. He said that the Jags defense has an edge because it doesn’t have so many miles on the odometer. Well, call me crazy, but I’ll take my defense with more playoff experience than you can count over a bunch of young guys that have never been there before. Oh, and I checked the injury report, it seems that several Jags regulars on that side of the ball are injured, and won’t be playing, with two starting defensive tackles out of action and a linebacker. But, at least the guys they have are young, right.

“If New England comes in and shuts down Jones-Drew and Taylor down, Garrard can’t throw for 300-yards,” Andy said.

Finally, my good friend makes some sense. You see, the Patriots like to take what you do best, take it away, and then make you beat them another way. It’s sound strategy. So, what we’re likely to see is Rodney Harrison stacking near the line as an extra linebacker and the Pats daring the Jaguars to beat them with the passing game. David Garrard is a good up-and-coming QB, but he doesn’t have the best passing numbers, and last week’s 9-for-21 performance hardly makes you shake in your boots.

Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor are a great running combination. The Jags will get some yards on the ground, and they’re smart to try to keep the New England offense off of the field, but at the end of the day, the Jaguars aren’t capable of stopping the greatest offense in the world, with the best quarterback in the world, for 60 whole minutes. They just aren’t. Jacksonville has only had one big game this year in which it has had to play from behind and make a run at it (remember, they led most of the way last week before coughing up the lead late). In that game, they lost to Indy. Other than that, they’ve won games they’ve led, and lost games in which they fell behind. The Pats have a way of making you play from behind, probably because they score so much (makes sense, right).

“I think you’ve got a close game,” Andy said. “Great teams make it happen … I just hope it comes down to the fourth quarter.”

Well, we’ll see buddy. I won’t be surprised if Jacksonville keeps it a ballgame for a long time. They’re good, and if it were any other season, they’d be a team that I think could win it all. But this year they’re in the way of the steam engine, and they’re laying on the tracks (wow, that’s like a Coors Light commercial).

“I’m not inviting anyone over for this one. It’s too big, I can’t be around people. I’m going to hole up in my house and shut out the rest of the world,” Andy said.

That doesn’t sound like something a confident man would do, does it? Me, I’m going over to my brother’s place, having some food and enjoying the game (it always makes me laugh when Danny’s wife swears when someone drops a pass).

“If they win, I’ll have everyone over next week. It’ll be a big party,” he concluded.

I wouldn’t go out and buy the invitations buddy. But I would be waiting for that phone call Saturday night, sometime around 11:30 PM.

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