David Garrard (Getty Images)
In the first half of Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, it looked like the same stagnant Jaguars offense that fans have witnessed for the past three weeks. Run for two yards, run for two yards, throw a seven-yard slant to Matt Jones and hope to convert.
The half ended in a 10-10 tie where the only offensive touchdown for the Jaguars was a trick play on a fourth down where back up fullback and special teams ace Montell Owens took a direct snap out of a punt formation, a “wild Jag” formation if you will, and broke tackles on the way to a 41-yard touchdown run.
In the first half, David Garrard only had three incompletions, but the majority of his passes were thrown less than 10 yards. The good news was that the Jacksonville offense was at least moving the ball down the field, but the bad news is once again their drives would stall and they would have to kick field goals. Wide receiver Jerry Porter was in the lineup for the first time this season, a move that many felt would cure the Jaguars’ passing ills. In the first half of the game, it wasn’t the case as it looked like the same ‘ol same ‘ol. There were many plays where David Garrard would opt to dump the ball off instead of looking to the other side of the field at the open receiver.
Following intermission, the Jaguars offense transformed. Someone found David Garrard’s light bulb and flipped the switch that had been apparently stuck on “off” for the first three games. Garrard completed 5 of 5 passes for 54 yards and capped it off with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Matt Jones. This looked like the David Garrard that Jaguars fans remember from last year, who was third in the NFL in quarterback rating, and was one of the most efficient passers in the NFL. The very next drive, following a Houston Texans touchdown, the shootout was on. Garrard completed 4 of 6 passes on the drive, and in all honesty should have been a perfect 6 for 6. The drive stalled when tight end Marcedes Lewis dropped his 2nd pass of the drive and the Jaguars had to settle for a field goal.
Once again the Texans answered right back. The next drive was vintage 2007 David Garrard, as the ball was in his hands and he lead the team down the field accounting for 62 yards, rushing and passing, including a gutsy 4th and 9 run for 10 yards. The drive was capped off with a five-yard touchdown run by David Garrard to go ahead by 3 points. The Texans would again march right down the field and tie the game.
“I just think we’re finally coming together as an offense,” said David Garrard following Sunday’s 30-27 victory over the Texans. “The offensive line, the receivers, the passing game—it’s been there, we just needed that confidence to be able to drop back and throw the ball deep down the field and just make plays.”
If the fourth quarter drive to put the Jaguars ahead wasn’t enough, Garrard picked right up in overtime and marched the Jacksonville Jaguars into field goal range to win the game. David Garrard floated a beautiful pass to wide receiver Matt Jones 24 yards down the field on a big third down. The very next play David Garrard hit fullback Greg Jones on a route out of the back field where he rumbled ahead for 22 yards dragging defenders down the field.
“I think it just gives us confidence and allows us to know we can do this,” said Garrard when asked about the last-minute drive. “We know we can be in a pressure situation. We know we can be in a situation at the end of a game when we need three points, four points, or when we need a touchdown, we know we can go down and get it.”
Jacksonville offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter guaranteed an offensive explosion for the Jaguars Sunday against the Houston Texans. Going into the half it looked like it wouldn’t come to fruition, but something happened at half time and the Jaguars offense finally woke up. David Garrard finally found his comfort zone and the passing attack, even with a group of perceived underachieving wide receivers. Hopefully for Jacksonville fans, the Jaguars can keep the offensive pace next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.