One area of the Jacksonville Jaguarsoffense that's been severely lacking is the deep ball. The team hasn't had a real threat to stretch the field since Jimmy Smith was in his twilight on the roster in 2006. Since then, the team has had a woeful time of it completing passes down the football field. Part of it is the receiving corps, part of it is the offensive line, and part of it is the quarterback is spotty at best deep down the field. It's all a recipe to not complete a lot of passes down field.
The Jaguars have 17 TD passes of 20-plus yards the last three seasons, which is tied for 24th in the NFL.
During the 2010 NFL season, David Garrard completed just 18 of 42 passes attempted over 20 yards. He completed just 5 over 30 yards. Going deep down the field has never been a strong part of Garrard's game, but he says that he's ready to take that step in 2011 and an area he thinks the team can improve. "I guess for me, really it's just me and my receivers hitting those deep balls. Those are big plays and balls that we haven't really thrown around here in the past, but we've got some guys that can really fly," Garrard told the media. "I know they want me to continue to throw them, but we've just got the hit them."
The Jaguars have certainly taken those shots in the preseason with David Garrard. The problem is, they just haven't been able to hit them. In two games, Garrard has taken at least 6 deep shots down the field and the only one that was completed was intercepted by Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes. In Saturday's game against the Buffalo Bills, Garrard could have completed one but receiver Jason Hill short armed it.
Garrard was asked on Monday about his tendency to overthrew the deeper routes, but he didn't seem to think that was an issue. "The only one I really felt like I overthrew was Mike Thomas. I just put a little too much on it," said Garrard. "The one to J-Hill, the first one I thought was pretty good. That one he was mad at himself, but then the one where the ball just fell over his outstretched arms he just couldn't get to it because the guy was grabbing his arm," added Garrard.
I'm not sure which play Jason Hill was having his arm grabbed, but on one of the pass interference calls it was actually Hill holding the arm of the defensive back. The other pass interference call the ball landed out of bounds and didn't look like it was even catchable. Maybe Garrard is talking about the one Jason Hill short armed, which was actually a great throw by Garrard, but I didn't see anyone grabbing Hill's arm either.
One positive sign from the game Saturday however, was it was clear Jason Hill has the ability to separate from a defender down the field. The problem remains though, the team can't seem to hit those plays. In order to be effective on offense, Garrard has got to make better throws down the field and when he actually makes a good throw down the field, the receiver has to catch it.
"We're going to start hitting deep balls and teams are going to respect that part of us," Hill told the media. "As a wide receiver, that's what you want. You grow up playing and catching deep balls. We want that to be a big part of what we do."