CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 20: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
After an inexplicable decision to not call timeout with well over 30 seconds left on the clock, the Jaguars took far too long to run a play on first down from the two yard line and when they finally did, running back Maurice Jones-Drew got one yard. The Jaguars then elected to use their final timeout, with just eight seconds on the clock.
Dirk Koetter made the decision to pass on second down to preserve the opportunity to run two plays if necessary and following a drop by Jason Hill, it was. With three seconds left on the clock, the Jaguars have to run the ball with their MVP and ace, Jones-Drew, but instead decided to pass with their rookie quarterback from one yard away.It didn't work. There's no guarantee that Jones-Drew could've plowed ahead for the one yard necessary to score, but I surely would've been more comfortable with the loss had the Jaguars decided to give him the chance. Many Jaguars players agree:
Via Tania Ganguli, wide receiver Mike Thomas said after the game about Jones-Drew not getting the ball on the final play, "Ideally that’s the guy, in short yardage situations, that’s the guy you probably want the ball in his hands"
Guard Uche Nwaneri responded to fan comments on Facebook with, "You want the ball in your ace's hands, but hell whoever gets their number called, you gotta make the play."
The decision to go away from Jones-Drew was one that Jack Del Rio said was Koetter's decision, although he said he didn't disagree with the decision. Regardless of who made the decision, it was the incorrect one. Jones-Drew is far and away the best player on the Jaguars offense and has to be the one they rely on in key situations.
Beyond the final play of the game, I have not had many qualms with Koetter's play calling or Del Rio's coaching. Koetter has had the challenge of calling plays for a team that struggles to execute in every aspect offensively. In the last two week's we have witnessed more plays that have been within the comfort zone of Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars have been much more successful moving the ball down the field.
However, comfortable or not, the Jaguars absolutely cannot take the ball out of the hands of their best player in crucial moments.