|Jaguars trying to get ground game back on track|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 15 September 2008 13:06|
They did it better than just about everyone in the NFL the last two seasons, finishing third in rushing in 2006 and second in 2007.
They haven't been nearly as effective this year. In fact, they've been borderline inept.
Taylor and Jones-Drew have found few holes, Garrard has been sacked nine times, and the result is the franchise's first 0-2 start in five years. With a banged-up offensive line and no big-play receivers, it might not get any better, either.
``I don't think it's broken,'' guard Uche Nwaneri said Monday, a day after Jacksonville's 20-16 loss to Buffalo. ``I think we're real close on a lot of plays. There are little details that need to be cleaned up. Aside from that, we're getting good push on defenders. We were that close to breaking a number of them. That's basically where we're at right now.''
d that close, though.
Taylor has 23 carries for 67 yards in two games. Jones-Drew has 12 rushes for 30 yards and the team's lone touchdown on the ground. And Garrard has 34 yards on nine attempts.
With 131 yards on the ground in two games, the Jaguars rank 28th in the league in rushing.
Part of the problem is the offensive line, which is playing without three starters and struggling to create the same kind of running lanes Taylor and Jones-Drew are accustomed to seeing.
Another part of it is the team's lack of a deep threat. With Jerry Porter (hamstring) missing the first two games, the Jaguars have no one to prevent defenses from stacking the line of scrimmage, keying on the run and daring Garrard to beat them over the top.
The rushing woes have become a trend, too.
Just look at the team's last four games dating to last season. Taylor and Jones-Drew combined for 77 yards (at Pittsburgh), 66 (at New England), 31 (at Tennessee) and 66 (against Buffalo). Jacksonville is 1-3 in those games, with the one win coming mostly because of Garrard's 32-yard run on a fourth-and-2 play late in the playoff game against the Steelers.
Jaguars, and we've got to do what the Jaguars do.''
Coach Jack Del Rio blamed the sputtering running game on third-down conversions, saying the team's 7-of-25 success rate hasn't given the offense as many chances to get things going on the ground.
``We'd like to have the ability to (run) it more,'' Del Rio said. ``I think that certainly the third-down conversions would allow that. Unless you're going to rip off a couple of (long) runs in a ballgame, you're gonna need to run a number of times in order to get those numbers of yards and possess the football.
``We're two games into the season, so to try to draw a sample and try to evaluate, you're talking about two separate games. Tennessee stopped us pretty good, and I thought we had some opportunities (Sunday). We did some good things and would have liked to have more opportunities.''
The Jaguars remain committed to the ground game. They believe an extra week of practice with the linemen will help, and so could Porter's expected debut Sunday at Indianapolis. The Colts also should provide a chance for Jacksonville to turn things around, since they've allowed 363 yards rushing in two games.
``Is it perfect right now? No,'' Jaguars right tackle Tony Pashos said. ``But the effort's there and we're going to get it right.''