|Run-oriented Jaguars pass, fail against Colts|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 23 October 2007 08:06|
The physical, smash-mouth team with a former hard-hitting linebacker as a head coach and one of the best running back tandems in the league decided to mix it up against the Colts on Monday night.
The Jaguars threw eight times in the first 11 plays and 14 times in the opening 19. Yep, the team that ran for 191 yards at Indianapolis early last season and gained a franchise-record 375 yards on the ground in the second meeting went mostly to the air this time around.
``We went in knowing that they were going to be jammed up in the box, which they were, and there would be some easy opportunities outside, which there were, and we hit some of them,'' coach Jack Del Rio said after his team was drubbed 29-7 in the prime-time game.
Maybe so, but the Jaguars have rarely been afraid to run with eight or nine defenders around the line of scrimmage. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew faced loaded boxes all last season and still combined for 2,087 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns.
Jacksonville (4-2) also was coming off three games in which the offense gained 186, 156 and 244 yards rushing. The Jags controlled time of possession, kept the defense fresh and allowed David Garrard to take advantage of play-action passes. The result was three relative easy wins.
The Colts, though, were the ones who used that game plan to perfection Monday night.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, opened the game relying on Garrard and the team's mediocre group of receivers. Maybe it would have worked had Greg Estandia and George Wrighster not dropped passes early. Maybe it would have worked had Jacksonville's offensive line held up against Indy's speedy pass rush.
Nonetheless, the decision to pass early and often proved costly.
Garrard was sacked in the second quarter and badly sprained his left ankle. He went to the locker room, had it re-taped and tried to return. But his ankle swelled up during halftime, forcing him to stay on the bench and probably forcing him out of the starting lineup.
Del Rio said Garrard likely will miss at least one game. The Jaguars open the only three-game road trip in the NFL this season Sunday at Tampa Bay. They face New Orleans and Tennessee the following weeks.
``He has a pretty good sprain on there, so I would think in all likelihood he'll be missing some time,'' Del Rio said. ``He tweaked it pretty good.''
Garrard finished 8-of-12 for 72 yards. Backup Quinn Gray stepped in and turned the ball over three times, two interceptions and a fumble. He finished 9-of-24 for 56 yards.
``We beat ourselves,'' receiver Ernest Wilford said. ``Too many turnovers, too many mental errors.''
The biggest mental errors may have come from the coaching staff.
Not only were all the early passes questioned - they left several players shaking their heads in the locker room - the Jaguars made two curious fourth-down calls.
On the first, a fourth-and-3 at the Indianapolis 34, Garrard threw to his backup tight end. Wrighster let the pass slip through his hands.
The second was fourth-and-1 near midfield. Instead of running up the middle with Taylor, Jones-Drew or fullback Greg Jones, the Jaguars called for an end around to Jones-Drew. The play lost a yard and essentially set up a late field goal that made it 17-0 at halftime.
``We were going to need to make plays to win this game and we had a good plan coming in and thought we could take advantage of that situation and make a big play,'' Del Rio said. ``It didn't come off the way we hoped, obviously.''
Not much did.
The Jaguars ran more in the second half with Gray at quarterback, but it was too little, too late. Taylor finished with 55 yards rushing, and Jones-Drew added 52 before spraining his left knee late. Del Rio said he should be fine.
As for the Jags, it may depend on whether they reclaim their identity.
``There's a lot of football left,'' Taylor said. ``It's only the sixth game of the season. It's not devastating, and it's not a major setback. No sense pressing the panic button right now.''