It was a rough Sunday for the Jaguars, but the show must go on and on the bright side, we’re still at .500 with many games left to play. I was always taught to start off with the positives before you criticize, so let’s get down to it…
- 1.) This will be the year that Daryl Smith finally makes the Pro-Bowl. He has been absolutely on point for the first two games of the season. In the past, the criticism of Daryl was that even though he is always in the right position and a sure tackler, he did not make enough big plays to be regarded as an elite linebacker. With one interception, one sack, one forced fumble, two tackles for loss, and consistent pressure when he’s rushed the quarterback, he’s doing a lot more than just wrapping up ball carriers. Smith’s was recognized as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week last week and is starting to be mentioned in more and more broadcasts as an unheralded superstar. It’s looking like he might just get “lei’d” this year on an all-expenses trip to Hawaii.
- 2.) Our “no-namers” are showing upside. With all due respect for the coverage breakdowns that happened yesterday, I would like to point out a standout game from waiver wire pickup strong safety Courtney Greene, who filled in for the injured Anthony Smith. Greene had 11 tackles, one pass defensed, a forced fumble, and an interception yesterday and showed the kind of aggressiveness and hustle that has become a staple of the Jaguars’ roster depth. David Jones and William Middleton had a few nice plays as well, and on the whole, I’ve been impressed with the improvements our defensive backs have made in tackling. Maybe it’s the Special Teams backgrounds all of these guys seem to have, but they like to wrap up and hit.
- 3.) The Offense and Defense played tentatively and cannot afford to be this season. At times, I got the feeling that the Jags were holding so tightly to their successes of last week that they were afraid to lose those good feelings against San Diego. We simply do not have the talent this year to compete with teams like the Chargers unless we strike a perfect balance between aggressively making opportunities and not beating ourselves.
- 4.) The coaching was tentative and cannot afford to be this season. I was very unimpressed with the playcalling. The Chiefs do not have a better O-line or better RB’s and ran all over the Chargers. They do not have better pass rushers, yet they generated more pressure than us. To beat San Diego, we were going to have to attack their weaknesses harder than they were attacking ours, and we simply did not do that.
- 5.) We do not have the Offensive firepower or a suffocating Defense to win games when we lose the turnover battle. Until either Offense or Defense steps up later in the season, we must play mistake-free football to be competitive.
- 6.) The Jaguars may have cultivated a positive attitude in the locker room, but toughness is what they lack and toughness must be earned. The selflessness and work ethic are building blocks that promote a winning culture, but the Jaguars were not calm and controlled yesterday when faced with adversity. They panicked after some early mistakes and did not show the resolve needed to come from behind. Toughness will come when the Jags prove to themselves that they can get a hard-fought win.
- 7.) Though David Garrard did not have a good day, he did not play as terribly as it looked. You’re never going to win a game or feel good when the Offense gives the ball away six times, but Garrard completed two-thirds of his passes and much of the turnovers were the result of poor circumstance. This morning, many sportswriters are lumping David in with Vince Young, Matt Moore, Derek Anderson, and other quarterbacks that have struggled early and may find themselves on the hot seat, but this is not the case with Garrard.
- 8.) Pressure appeared to come from the middle. Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton did a commendable job keeping the outside rushers at bay, but Garrard dealt with a weak pocket in front of him and interior rushers’ hands in his face and in his throwing lanes much of the day. Eugene, Eben, and now Uche Nwaneri are part of the long term plans on the line, but Meester and Smiley will not be long-term fixtures beyond 2010.
- 9.) Something is wrong with Gene’s two 3rd round gems from last year. Maybe it’s as simple as an injury. Maybe it’s that there’s a year’s worth of game type out there and their weaknesses have been discovered. But Terrance Knighton and Derek Cox are not playing close to the expectation set for them this year and I think there is more to the story that’s yet to be discovered.
- 10.) Luke McCown coming into the game late does not signify a quarterback controversy or even the possibility of a quarterback controversy. I outlined this piece before we knew the extent of Luke’s injury was known, so this is true even moreso, now that we know he will most likely be placed on IR. Garrard’s day was over by the time he was pulled – the Jags were not going to come up with enough plays on Offense and Defense to put themselves back in the game and Del Rio was not making any kind of statement about his confidence in David by putting in a backup quarterback. At that point, it was already time to start forgetting about that game and to move on to the Eagles.
– Andrew Hofheimer