Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jaguars: Not nearly good enough

Don Banks bemoans the fact that the Jags did nearly everything it takes to beat New England and they still lost. Don Banks is dead wrong.

The Jags didn't come nearly as close to beating New England as the Giants did last week or as Philly or Baltimore did before them. Banks argues that the Jags did the three most important things:

1. Stop Randy Moss.

2. Control the clock with the run game.

3. Keep the game close well into the fourth quarter.

You can make the argument that the Jags really only did one of those three things. They clearly shut down Randy Moss. I'd argue however that something was still amiss with the Jaguars D. They allowed Larry Maroney to destroy them. Who would have predicted that? Usually they can rely on their front 7 to stop the run without having an eighth man come up to help. The problem is Stroud is on IR and Henderson and Grady Jackson were hobbled. Still, stopping Moss was a good start.

The Jags didn't control the clock with the run game. Mojo and Fred Taylor only averaged 3.47 yards per carry for a total of 66 yards. Not nearly enough. DZ correctly points out that the Jags got away from running it because the passing game was so wide open. Fair enough, but when it came time to lean on the ground game in the second half New England's Linebackers weren't nearly as tired as they could have been. I would have liked to see 30+ carries. Remember the Jags were held to field goals on two of their final three drives.

Third, the Jaguars didn't keep the game all that close in the fourth quarter. They were down 11 points and kicked a field goal. That's as close as they got. You have to score touchdowns against the Pats. They were outscored 17-6 in the second half. I'd say Don Banks was very wrong about Jacksonville doing what it takes to win.

We've said all season that there are a couple things you have to do to beat the Pats. Covering Moss would be on that list, but here is where the Jags failed:

1. Don't turn the ball over. Garrard's boneheaded fumble was the play of the game. His late interception was also unfortunate. The guy played a great game, but you can't have any turnovers let alone multiple turnovers against a 16-0 team.

2. Force a turnover. Just one is enough. The Patriots only had 14 turnovers this season. The Colts were the only team close with 19 (six of those coming in one game). It is hard to beat a team that doesn't beat itself. If your D can't force the issue then don't bother showing up.

3. Score a ton of points. This is where the Jags (and Colts failed). 20 points is not nearly enough to beat the Pats. 30 should be enough if you follow steps one and two. DZ kept referring to last night as the Indy-KC playoff game. It felt a bit like that, but the Jags didn't hold up their end. I think the most likely scenario is to play a game last year's AFC championship game. Protect the football and score a ton. NE will probably follow suit. In the end, you hope Brady throws the big pick.

Tom Brady had a flawless game yesterday, but the Jaguars were far from it. This game is much closer if Dennis Northcutt didn't have the drop of the year last night on the goal line. It's all talk until someone beats the Pats, but we didn't see anything last night (even 92% completions) that says it can't be done.


Mosi said...

DS- well put. Agreed on a number of fronts. However it's always easy to trump out the turnover argument as the blueprint to beat the pats. But it hasn't happened all season (only 4 fumbles all year, all from Brady..) and I don't see it happening now.

Williams did an incredible job of covering Moss and double teaming. But teams have been doing that all season - some successful (i.e. Jags, Skins) and some not (Colts, Bolts, Bills). The reason this team wins under those circumstances is Brady's ability to check down. Go and read what Reggie Haywood had to say about this issue after the game. I laughed at a few of the catches Gaffney had with a LB covering him. I guess you have to resort to that when you're playing deep cover two with three guys on Moss..

The good: the left side of the OL (Mankins, Light) opening up cavernous holes, blocking down field from WRs, Maroney finally learning to hit the hole and not dance around, coaching (adjusting after half and holding the kitties to 6 points), Ty Warren.

The bad: (there's a reason "the good" has one reference to the defense...) Randell Gay just plain stinks, the kickoff return unit was terrible, LBs were blown off the ball at the snap for the first 2 quarters,

The ugly: Rodney Harrison and his STUPID unsportsmanlike penalties.

Good luck today. Colts 38-10.

Josh said...

Wow. I am utterly stunned. Where was the D? Why can't receivers catch passes? Where was the pass rush? Did they even rush the QBs today? I do love at the end how Philip Rivers showed tons of class by yelling at the fans in a victory where he watched the go ahead points scored from the sidelines. What do you think the spread will be next week? 14 or so?