It's Buzz-Kill Time for Jags
David Garrard  (Mark Humphrey/AP)
David Garrard (Mark Humphrey/AP)
Contributor
Posted Sep 22, 2008


The Jacksonville Jaguars did what they needed to Sunday as they went up to Indianapolis Sunday and stole a victory in a must win game, but there are still some glaring issues on the team. Not to sound like a buzz kill, but the Jaguars stole a game, much like the game they stole in Tampa Bay last year as they won by being one-dimensional.

Thus far, the Jaguars have scored only three touchdowns in 10 red zone possessions, including four trips on Sunday where the Jaguars had to settle for three field goals and only one touchdown, including late in the fourth quarter when a touchdown would have sealed the victory. They also gambled on a 4th and 2 and turned the ball over on downs. The Jacksonville Jaguars are not going to face Indianapolis’ defensive line all season, so I wouldn’t expect 200+ rushing yards on a consistent basis in the future.

There were multiple mistakes by the offense, all around, that nearly led to a Jacksonville Jaguars loss on Sunday. It’s easy to second-guess and be a Monday morning play-caller, but one of the worst play calls all season was Jack Del Rio’s decision to the run the ball on 4th and 2 from the Indianapolis 11 when the game was 7-3 instead of taking the easy points and making it 7-6. Just looking at this play call, had the Jaguars kicked the field goal there wouldn’t be the need for a last minute drive to get into field goal range, the Jaguars would already be up 23-21 and they could just run the clock out. I admire Del Rio’s frequency to go for it on 4th down, but you’ve got to know when to take the points and against the Colts, points are at a premium.

Second, the offensive play calling was atrocious. Sure, the Colts could not stop the running attack of the Jaguars… until the field shortened and the Jaguars were in the red zone. The game plan seemed as if Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter wanted to play the game as close to the vest as possible and take it out of the franchise quarterbacks’ hands. David Garrard threw the ball a total of seven times in the first half of the game and the Jaguars scored just three points on offense. There were only two passing plays called in the red zone in the first half, and both were dump off passes short of the end zone from the Indianapolis nine-yard line.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve got to think you take some shots at the end zone with your monstrous wide receivers and tight ends instead of dumping the ball off and hoping for yards after the catch. On another red zone appearance late in the third quarter, at 1st and 10 from the Indianapolis nine-yard line, the Jaguars ran the ball three straight times up the gut. Again, don’t you at least take one shot into the end zone instead of playing for the field goal? No Jaguars fans could feel comfortable being up only six points and giving Peyton Manning the ball back with just over two minutes left in the game. Especially since Manning did what was expected and marched right down the field for a touchdown. Couple that with the fact that the Jaguars wide receivers were in single coverage all game and the play action pass was staring the Jaguars in the face, and they did not try to go down the field one time.

If the Jacksonville Jaguars offense is going to play this close to the vest and take the ball out of the hands of its most important offensive player, the Jaguars are in for a long season. All it takes is one mistake to lose a game played like that. There are two things you can look at in this game that could have easily turned the tide; the Rashean Mathis interception for a touchdown in the second quarter, and the pass interference call on Freddy Keiaho on the Jaguars final possession on fourth down. If those two plays don’t happen, the Jacksonville Jaguars lose the game. I know it’s not proper to play the “if and but” game, but the Jacksonville offense didn’t do enough to win despite running all over the Colts and dominating the time of possession.

That being said, there was real promise on the final drive of the game when the Jaguars marched into field goal range with relative ease. David Garrard looked very comfortable in the hurry up offense throwing the ball around. He was on target and hit the open man. My question is… why doesn’t Dirk Koetter employ more of this during the game? Every time the Jaguars offense has gone into a no-huddle hurry up mode, David Garrard looks good.

Despite a victory over an injury-depleted Indianapolis team, the Jaguars still have to play better on offense, and that starts with opening things up and trusting the quarterback a little more.


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