BOOK IT: 5 Things I Think About the Jaguars, Week 10

  • 1.) It will not be written that Maurice Jones-Drew faded in the second half of 2010. With legs churning beneath him like Road Runner and plowing through defenders like Mighty Mouse, there was nothing cartoonish about the workman-like performance of 100 yards and two touchdowns. On Sunday, his legs looked fresher than they’ve looked all year. This season may rest on David Garrard’s shoulders, but Mojo is still the heart of the offense, despite a quieter year (on and off the field) than we’ve come to expect from him. After putting up a day like that on Sunday, it makes you wonder where all those rumors about a secretly torn meniscus (torn hibiscus?) were coming from during the first few weeks of the season.
  • 2.) This game perfectly illustrates the fine line between genius and notoriety. How many times have we heard Jack Del Rio say it? When you win, you’re a genius and when you lose, you’re a dog. And the Jaguars found a way to win this week, so it’s all good. Going for it on 4th down from our own 43 yard line in the 4th quarter? GENIUS. Playing for the field goal (which Scobee missed) instead of a touchdown in the late 4th quarter? GENIUS. Deji Karim returning a kickoff that almost went over his head and then nearly fumbling the ball away with less than 5 minutes to play? GENIUS. Letting Garrard heave the Hail Mary instead of playing for overtime? GENIUS. I hate to think what fans would be saying about Scobee, Garrard, Deji, and JDR if we had lost that game, but it goes to show how the outcome of every game is the result of lots of controversial decisions that are forgotten in the joy of a win and dwelled upon in the wake of a loss. Sure doesn’t hurt to have Lady Luck on our side, does it?
  • 3.) Could it be, that at age 32, David Garrard is finally maturing into a consistent, starting-caliber NFL quarterback? After wresting the starting job from the previously bulletproof Byron Leftwich,  a guy drafted to be a career backup was given the keys to the offense after riding the bench and doing relief duty for the previous five seasons.  Despite his impressive 2007 season, David has been coddled by the coaches and restrained by the playcalling most of his career. Some of that is due to limitations the coaching staff has perceived in his game. Some of that is due to limitations in his supporting cast of pass catchers and pass protectors.  But he has always been treated like a backup and never like a star. Jack Del Rio’s comments about David not being an elite quarterback and the following challenges presented by owner Wayne Weaver were well documented this summer. David was asked to step up and he responded by spending more time in the film room, more time with his receivers, and more time inventing creative ways to better himself and his teammates. A few games into the 2010, it became clear that there was “Good David” and “Bad David”. Part of me wonders if during the time David took off dealing his concussion, he looked in the mirror and asked himself which David he wanted to be known as. He’s proved in his good games what he’s capable of being – a commanding field general, a laser-sharp passer, an electrifying playmaker. The bad games we’ve seen this year are the last remnants of the old David. Finally, in his ninth NFL season, David Garrard believes that he has all of the talent and all of the supporting cast he needs to be a top 10 quarterback. And his coaches are starting to believe it, too.
  • 4.) Before Kampman’s injury, the defense would rally around him. Now, they must rally in spite of him. The defense played extremely well in the first half against Houston, but I can’t lie to you, not a single player stood out. And when it hit the fan in the second half, players were looking around like Kampman might suddenly come running on the field to their rescue. New leaders must emerge and I’m not talking about the Ray Lewis, pre-gaming dancing, on-the-field screaming type. I’m talking about players like Aaron, who play at their highest intensity on every play, whether the team is up by four touchdowns or down by four touchdowns. Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton must maintain their high level of play and anchor this defense from the inside-out. Daryl Smith has to regain his form and again become a player that young guys can rally around. I see something special in Courtney Greene, as well – he tackles well and hits hard and is making the most of his opportunity. He could become a leader in the secondary as certain veterans (cough..cough) fade.
  • 5.) If the Jaguars’ are not built to play tough by this point, the remaining schedule will eat them alive. There are no scenic overlooks left for the Jags to to pull over and enjoy the view. Up next is a Browns’ team that has knocked off the Saints, the Patriots, and took the Jets down to the wire in overtime last week.  The week after that we play the Giants, a premier NFC team who can rush the passer, run the ball, and throw it deep – all with great efficiency. After that,  we have all three of our division rivals on the road, a Raiders’ team that’s running the ball better than anyone right now, and the Redskins, who no matter what you say, still have Donovan McNabb under center, who has been as successful during the regular season as any other player for the last 10 years. If there are any holes in the Jaguars’ resolve, it will be tested and exploited. But if we have matured and can play tough down the stretch and find a way into the playoffs, this team will be battle-tested and can hopefully do something…miraculous.

– Andrew Hofheimer