Fun, fun win to watch this week. I don’t care what you say, there will always be something exciting about going into a stadium like that and taking the whooping to one of the league’s most storied franchises. Sure, the Cowboys are down and out this year and quite frankly, it became apparent before the 3rd quarter was over that it was a game the Jaguars should have won. And sure, the Jaguars have put on some disappointing performances this year and no one really knows how this crazy season will end up. But I’ve been watching our team and our fans with a careful eye. The passion is there in Jacksonville, on the field and in the stands. This city wants to love this team so bad, but we’re scared of what will happen if loving them doesn’t turn out the way we want it to.
But it’s impossible not to feel that feeling we all have today going into the bye week…hope. From here, all it takes is a winning streak.
- 1.) The Jaguars’ 2010 season is entirely on the shoulders of quarterback David Garrard. That should come as no surprise to anyone. The quarterback is far and away the most important position in the modern game and David’s play will dictate the outcome of our season – playoffs or bust. There’s nothing new to report about Garrard, but just look at the Jaguars’ half-season thus far. When he’s played poorly (or not played), everything seems to fall apart. When he’s played well, somehow everything comes together on both sides of the ball. Sometimes Garrard plays like one of the most capable and clutch quarterbacks in the league and sometimes he is maddeningly inept. But like it or not, I’ve said it from the beginning and it’s just as true today. The best chance for the Jaguars to win this season is with Garrard at the helm.
- 2.) Don’t let the final score or statistics fool you, the defense played extremely well. The game was virtually over six minutes into the second half, when the Jaguars took a commanding 28-3 lead and the defensive scheme reverted to very soft zones, allowing Kitna to complete anything he wanted underneath. Absent from yesterday’s performance were the problems with discipline and fundamentals we’ve seen the last few weeks. The defense was stout and attacking, shedding blocks and making tackles and essentially reducing the Cowboys ground game to rubble. The RUSHMEN dominated the line of scrimmage and were constantly flushing Kitna out of the pocket or getting hands in his face. And though at times the Dallas receivers had a bit too much separation on our defensive backs, the coverage was tight when we needed it to be and our guys made incredible efforts to proactively take the ball back, grabbing four interceptions.
- 3.) Defensive game balls: Derek Cox and Tyson Alualu. Two notorious Gene Smith picks that left Mel Kiper Jr. and 99.9% of the Jaguars’ fanbase scratching their heads. Well, if you ever questioned what Gene saw in these guys, it was on full display Sunday. Cox shook off whatever mental roadblocks he’d been dealing with, intercepting two passes, slapping away three more for incompletions, and demonstrating the value of having a bigger corner who can tackle and help in run support. Tyson showed his speed and slipperyness, knifing through the Cowboys’ line for a sack and a tackle for a loss, and keeping Kitna under duress all day. Track down a highlight of his sack – he ran right in between a double team by the offensive guard and tackle, putting a hand on each of their chests, and parting the Red Sea of two 300-pound men for the sack. Absolutely incredible performance by both of these young men.
- 4.) The Jaguars’ checked off some more blocks that will build the character and confidence of our young team. The four-down, goal line stand may very well be the defining series of this game and our season thus far. The Jaguars have struggled to stop short conversions and hunker down in do-or-die situations and they found a way to get it done here. All of the linemen held the point and the linebackers filled their gaps – that’s how it’s done and that series squashed the Cowboys’ attempt to get back in the game before the half and likely was the psychological blow that put their fire out for good. Two other very important accomplishments of this game were that the Jags were unwavered by the magnitude of the event and did a commendable job finishing off their opponent. All of the things that make a storyline for fans – the prestige of the Cowboys’, the opulence of the venue, the desperation of both teams – none of that mattered on the field. The Jaguars got out there and executed the game plan and when the Cowboys stood there dazed and wounded in the 3rd quarter, the offense and defense delivered the killshots.
- 5.) Relish the victory. This is the fun side of having a young team. This Sunday, we were treated to watching a team that found out how good it can be when they’re doing everything right. After the fact, we can say that the Cowboys have some serious problems and by all counts, Jacksonville should have won that game yesterday. We saw the flashes of brilliance that a young team who’s still figuring itself out can bring to the gridiron. We’ve seen plenty of the opposite side halfway through the season and 4-4 seems like a worthy record at this point. There will likely be games down the stretch where the Jags disappoint us again. There will likely be games down the stretch where the Jags astound us with an elite performance out of nowhere. All we can do is watch and enjoy the fact that our team is on the rise, quite the opposite of that high-priced clown show in the middle of Texas.
- Andrew Hofheimer