|Jaguars handle early season adversity|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 14 October 2008 09:54|
So what should his playing partners expect after Jacksonville beat Denver on Sunday to win for the third time in four games?
``That'll make my swing much more fluid, without question,'' Del Rio said.
The victory could make the season much smoother for the Jaguars (3-3), too. Del Rio called it a ``turning-point-type'' game, the kind of win that could provide a big boost for a franchise trying to overcome a tragic shooting, an 0-2 start and some key injuries.
``There is no question in my mind that this was an early season storm capable of ruining a team and a year a team could have,'' Del Rio said. ``We've been able to survive it. I think 3-3 is surviving. We weren't dominant through it, we didn't flourish in that situation, but we didn't wilt or crumble in that situation, either.''
falo, Pittsburgh and Denver have a combined 17-4 record - and are the only team in the league to have every game decided by seven points or fewer.
Back in August, players and coaches expected more. But considering everything that transpired since, they will gladly take a .500 record now.
``If you said before the season we'd be 3-3 at this point, we wouldn't have liked it,'' quarterback David Garrard said. ``But right now, it feels pretty good.''
The Jaguars lost center Brad Meester during training camp, dealt with the shooting of backup offensive tackle Richard Collier just days before the opener and placed both starting guards on injured reserve a week later.
Free agent Jerry Porter, who signed a $30 million contract to be the team's go-to receiver, missed the first three games because of a hamstring injury and has just one catch.
First-round draft pick Derrick Harvey held out more than a month, missing all of training camp and most of the preseason, and has five tackles and no sacks through six games.
Throw in receiver Matt Jones' felony drug charge and nagging injuries to safety Reggie Nelson and cornerback Drayton Florence, and little went right for the Jaguars to open the season.
But Sunday's win changed everyone's outlook, and for good reason.
55 yards, threw for 276, forced three turnovers and held the Broncos mostly in check after the opening drive.
``That was probably the closest we've had in our first six weeks to the type of the football we're looking for, where the defense is forcing three-and-outs, where the offense is taking the ball and moving it down the field and scoring points,'' Del Rio said.
Jacksonville hopes to play like that more regularly after the bye week. A seemingly softer schedule and the return of several starters should help.
The team's next three games - Cleveland, Cincinnati and Detroit - are against teams with a combined 2-14 mark. And Meester (biceps), Nelson (knee) and Florence (groin) are expected to return to the starting lineup against the Browns. Guard Chris Naeole (knee), defensive tackle Rob Meier (knee) and return specialist Brian Witherspoon (thigh) also should be back.
``There's definitely been some character-building take place in the start to this season,'' Del Rio said. ``With that now, what type of mentality do you take for the last 10 regular-season games? That has a chance to shape us and harden us in a way that could be very beneficial.''