Leftwich, Koetter mesh as passing game improves for Jags Print
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Wednesday, 15 August 2007 11:53
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 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -The Jacksonville Jaguars ended training camp Wednesday believing their passing game has improved under first-year offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
``Significant improvement,'' coach Jack Del Rio said. ``We feel good about the start we have. ... Our offense has put some stress on our defense consistently throughout camp, and I think that's a good sign for our football team.''
The Jaguars focused on the passing game from the first day of camp, trying to get quarterback Byron Leftwich, backup David Garrard and a retooled receiving unit up to speed with Koetter's pass-first offense.
They looked good in the preseason opener at Miami.
Leftwich was 7-of-10 for 78 yards and a touchdown, and two of his incompletions were dropped passes. Garrard was 12-of-16 for 153 yards.
It was a strong start for an offense that ranked 24th in the league in passing last season. Leftwich, who missed 10 games in 2006 because of an ankle injury, hopes to be even better Saturday night against Tampa Bay.
``The next step for me and the offense is to go out and continue executing,'' Leftwich said. ``This is part two of the process, but at the same time, you want to have some success. You want to get better from last week.''
Koetter and Leftwich seemingly have meshed throughout minicamp, more than a dozen summer practices and nearly three weeks of training camp.
Koetter, the former head coach at Arizona State, showed Leftwich and his teammates offensive clips from New England, Cincinnati and New Orleans while installing the offense. He wanted them to emulate those three offensive-savvy playoff teams - and hope for similar success.
The Jaguars also surrounded Leftwich with more talent. They signed free agent receiver Dennis Northcutt, tight end Jermaine Wiggins and then drafted two speedy wideouts - third-round pick Mike Walker and seventh-rounder John Broussard.
Jacksonville also lured free agent right tackle Tony Pashos from Baltimore, hoping he will help keep pressure off a quarterback who has missed 17 games the last three seasons because of injuries.
Leftwich was sacked twice against the Dolphins, though. Pashos got beat once, and center Dennis Norman failed to pick up a stunting defensive lineman.
``The last thing you want is for those guys to begin to panic,'' Leftwich said. ``You have to understand that those are the type of things that happen in preseason games. That is mainly what preseason games are for - so you can fine-tune everything. ... I have never seen a quarterback not get touched or never get sacked. That is just part of the game.''
While keeping Leftwich upright and healthy is a main concern for the Jaguars, giving him more freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage could be key to keeping him content - and maybe lead to even more improvement.
``I think Byron is excited about having more latitude to do that at the line, to get out of a bad play and into a play that we think can be good,'' Del Rio said. ``We feel we're ready now. Byron being in his fifth year in the league comes in with more experience, more know-how, and with that, he'll get added responsibilities.''
st the Bucs.
 

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