Sorry for the delay in posting, there’s nothing like finals week to complete distract one from any form of relaxation. My apologies, but it’s time to offer commentary once again! On Sunday the Jaguars showed up to play but got manhandled by the Colts. The players that needed to step up in the game failed to do so and the Jaguars allowed far too many turnovers and had too many mistakes. Whether it was because they were tired due to the game against the Raiders the week before or some other reason is irrelevant, the men had a chance to clinch the division but failed. The Colts were far too crisp for the Jaguars and operated their game plan with precision. So, who was crisp for the Jaguars, and who must be next week for success against Washington?
- The Crispest of the Crispies: Daryl Smith. Smith finished the game with 13 tackles, two assists, and a sack. He was the sole bright spot of the defense. Smith has quietly put together a very good season (81 tackles, 4 sacks (tied highest for career) and showed that he is the true force behind the defense even while allowing Donald Brown to have a career day.
- 2nd Crispest: Mike Thomas (Kick Returns). I must put a clarifier on this selection because Thomas was only crisp in his punt returning on Sunday. His returns showed great vision and patience, knowing just when to explode to take advantage of the Colts return coverage. A 24.8 yard average and a touchdown is a good reflection of his abilities.
- 3rd Crispest: Kirk Morrison. I like his play. He isn’t flashy, he isn’t mention a lot, but he is always, always, always around the ball. His numbers (4 tackles, three assists) don’t reflect the effort or presence he puts on the field. He is a very solid addition to this defense and plays a true middle linebacker position as opposed to sliding outside linebackers around like in years past.
- Not So Crisp (Soggy): William Middleton. Every play that Middleton was in on the defense allowed long gains through the air. He is generally a decent relief corner, but he simply can’t match up against Austin Collie on the slot. Middleton is not a gifted enough corner to cover proper slot receivers. He was burned throughout the game and caught out of position on both of Collie’s scores. The only good thing that occurred in the game for him was Collie’s injury. And when the only bright spot of your Sunday is the injury of the guy you’re supposed to be covering, you know you played very poorly. His play was outrageously disappointing. There must be a better nickel corner on the Jags’ roster.
Minus Daryl Smith, the entire team played very poorly. While Middleton was chosen as the Soggiest player in my eyes other people could easily have taken his spot. Rashean Mathis was not the shutdown corner needed in the game and played way too far off his man. Maurice Jones-Drew had too many gaffs (2 fumbles that were accredited to Garrard) to succeed and needs to finish each game with well over the 46 yards he was restricted to on Sunday. Garrard was not nearly precise enough in his throws and needed to put the ball in a spot where only his receiver could catch it far more frequently. Mike Sims-Walker was, once again, hardly noticeable and needs to catch the ball when it hits his hands. Josh Scobee must, always, kick an onside kick high enough to go ten yards and give the Jags a chance to recover when the game is on the line. On top of eliminating the Jags’ final chance to come back, he allowed a return for a touchdown. Don Carey needs to learn how to play safety if he wishes to hang with top-flight receivers and quarterbacks. The list goes on.
If the Jaguars really want to win out on the season (And hopefully the Colts will lose at least one game) they must improve. The play calling (Minus the toss on fourth down) was solid on both sides of the ball. This loss was entirely on the players. But, unlike the players mentioned above, it is the duty of both lines to step up and carry the team. Some 3rd string backs could get more yards than MJD did if the line was opening up bette holes. The defensive line needs to limit 1st round bust Donal Brown to less than 100 yards, and stop whoever is running next week to less than two gains longer than 20 yards. It’s inexcusable. The lines set up the play for all other players for the Jaguars. Without dominant lines this team cannot succeed.
Although we didn’t win this week, we can still celebrate the holidays on Sunday with a win over Washington.
- Luke N. Sims