BOOK IT: 5 Things I Think About the Jaguars, Week 7

If this was a crossroads game, what does that make our next match at Jerryworld against Tony Romo and his gang of potent pass catchers? There are some fundamental changes the Jaguars have to make to find a way to be competitive again. With the completely unpredictable way each weeks’ fixtures have been panning out in 2010 and what seems to be a completely bipolar Jacksonville team, honestly, who knows what could happen? Whatever the case, this season will rest on Garrard’s shoulders, like it or not. Hopefully he comes off his week of rest and decides to play like a new man.

“She falls down a well, her eyes go cross. She gets kicked by a mule. They go back. I don’t know.” – Cousin Eddie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

1.) Recently signed quarterback Todd Bouman showed the throwing ability and decisiveness to become Jacksonville’s quarterback of the future. That’s a little joke to take the edge off – Todd is 38 years old and was riding a tractor on his dad’s farm when he got the call from GM Gene to come man the offense for a week. But there were elements of Bouman’s performance that unfortunately, David Garrard has not shown in a long time. Passes had nice zip on them and were hitting receivers in the hands and in stride – unfortunately though, it looks like our guys still got a case of the dropsies. Todd also showed nice touch on a number of throws and did a good job (except on the picks) placing the ball where only our receiver could make a play on it. Most impressive was Bouman’s decisiveness – there was no one-beat hesitation once he found his open receiver and he wasn’t locking on to his first read on every play. He scanned the field and once he found the open guy, he fired. We’ve been missing these attributes at the quarterback position for a long time now. By the way, anyone catch Bouman’s shocking celebration after his touchdown pass to MJD?

2.) Safety Dance Status Report: some good, some bad. Courtney Greene seems pretty reliable in his performances thus far. He hits hard and rarely misses tackles, which makes him a decent prospect for the strong safety position in this defense. Don Carey looked pretty lost, on the other hand. If he’s going to make anything of himself in the free safety position, he will have to show better positioning and instincts. He is not very physical or a gifted tackler and on the Dwayne Bowe touchdown, he should have come up to make a play on the ball or at least brought Bowe down quickly, but instead got spun like a top trying to catch him.

3.) Costly turnovers, costly penalties, bad challenges, and seemingly no halftime strategic adjustments – the  hallmarks of the Jaguars’ losses this year. I don’t have to tell anyone that you can’t win like this. The turnovers fall on the shoulders of a quarterback picked up off the street (farm, in this case) and a heartbreaking fumble by Mike Thomas. The rest falls on the coach.

4.) The defense was gouged by the Chiefs’ rushing attack because of poor gap discipline, poor block shedding, and poor tackling. These are the fundamentals of defense and frankly, it is embarrassing to not get these right. How many plays were there yesterday where the front seven was not being overpowered by the Chiefs’ blockers and there seemed to be several Jaguars close enough to make a play yet couldn’t? They weren’t getting blown out on the blocks, but when the ball carrier was within reach they failed to shed and tackle. On other plays, our defense had the gap plugged, but would end up surrendering several yards because everyone left their responsibilities and the ball carrier was not contained. It was disheartening to watch. It had to have been disheartening to be on the field.

5.) The time for ultimatums may already be over. When a Jack Del Rio team cannot run the ball and cannot stop the run, management will likely make the decision to turn the page. I realize the Jaguars still have the #10 rushing offense and were ranked higher than that last week, but as the Chiefs’ showed, a good rushing team will find a way to get it done. To have a chance of winning this game, the rushing attack was absolutely crucial to setting the tempo, controlling the clock, and only forcing Bouman to make the plays he had to. We dared Matt Cassel to throw with eight and nine defenders in the box and they still ran for over 200 yards on us. They found a way. The Jaguars did not. I like Jack Del Rio and the attitude and leadership he has brought to our football team. But running the ball and stopping the run have always been his signature and what is, at the very least, expected of his team. Combined with the shortcomings mentioned in point #3, it should not surprise if Del Rio’s fate is already sealed.

– Andrew Hofheimer

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