The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the same position they were at the bye week last season.
The Tennessee Titans hardly resemble last year’s team, and it has cost Kerry Collins his starting job.
An AFC South matchup with the winless Titans on Sunday should give the Jaguars an excellent opportunity to move above .500 for the first time this season, with Vince Young set to start in place of the struggling Collins.
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Jacksonville (3-3) has won three of four, including a 37-17 victory over Tennessee (0-6) on Oct. 4. The Jaguars also were 3-3 last season but were terrible after their bye week, losing eight of 10.
Following this year’s week off, Jacksonville believes it is heading in the right direction.
“This is a different team, different locker room, different attitude,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “I just feel like leadership on this team this year is better. The young guys are buying in, everybody’s buying in. It’s a different attitude about everything, about how we handle our business.”
David Garrard, who threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns versus the Titans, agreed.
“We’ve had some bumps in the road, but with this team, I know these guys are passionate about being Jaguars and being a part of this team,” Garrard said. “Not to name any names, but you definitely had a different feel (in 2008). You probably had more bickering in the locker room.”
Jacksonville parted with nearly a dozen starters following last year’s collapse. The Jaguars appeared headed for another long season after losing 41-0 to Seattle on Oct. 11, but bounced back the next week with a 23-20 victory over winless St. Louis.
Tennessee, St. Louis and Tampa Bay are the only teams that have yet to win a game. The Titans have lost eight straight since last season, when they won their first 10 en route to finishing an NFL-best 13-3.
Collins went 12-3 as a starter in 2008, replacing Young in a season-opening 17-10 win over Jacksonville on Sept. 7, 2008.
Young was intercepted twice in that contest and had to be told by coach Jeff Fisher to go back into the game. Young hurt his knee a few plays later.
Now, Young gets his chance to make his first start since then.
Titans owner Bud Adams reportedly spoke to Fisher during the bye week, telling the coach he wanted Young to start against the Jaguars over Collins, who went 2 for 12 for minus-7 yards and an interception in a 59-0 loss to New England on Oct. 18.
Fisher announced the expected move Thursday after practice.
“We’re in a unique situation right now. We haven’t won a game. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if we were 3-3,” Fisher said.
Young will take over a Tennessee team that hasn’t scored a touchdown in eight quarters.
Young replaced Collins during an 0-5 start in ’06, and he went on to earn Offensive Rookie of the Year honors as the Titans finished 8-8. He regressed the following season, throwing nine TDs while getting picked off 17 times.
However, he has won five of his last six starts.
Young has thrown for 693 yards and three touchdowns with eight interceptions in five starts against Jacksonville, but Tennessee won three of those matchups.
“If we win, it’s going to be good,” Young said. “If we lose, it’s all going to be Vince Young‘s fault. I just want to go out and play and get my rhythm back and put smiles on my coaches’ faces and my teammates’ faces and definitely the fans.”
Jacksonville cornerback Rashean Mathis, who has intercepted Young three times, won’t play in this contest after suffering a broken left index finger against the Rams. Mathis, the Jaguars‘ best defensive back, had surgery during the bye week.
Scott Starks or Tyrone Brackenridge will start opposite rookie Derek Cox.