From promise to change: a season overturned.
You can pinpoint the exact time the Jaguars 2007 campaign was overturned. A low sack by Ed Johnson at 9:27 on that desperate monday night sent the entire future into a time of great uncertainty. You see, the Jaguars entered that Monday night game with the highest of expectations and a powerful desire to prove their worth in front of the world. The greying visage of Tony Kornheiser would be denounced and the Jaguars would be raised into the NFL elite. But things would not and could not be so simple for the city on the river.
No, in-between a pass to Dennis Northcutt at 9:27 and Quinn's insertion at 9:30, our season took a dramatic and drastic change toward uncertainty. A known quantity in David Garrard was replaced with the unknown and untested Quinn Gray. We went from no interceptions to critical interceptions. We went from stability at Quarterback to Matt Jones, warming up like a 9th inning closer. We went from making the leap forward to the theater of the absurd.
Every cliche about "any given Sunday" burnt us on that fateful day. Even though one could make the argument that the Colts would prove victorious no matter who threw the ball (and I have no doubt that those at [Stampede Blue http/www.stampedeblue.com] make that point) the Jaguars could have left the field as the second best team in the league. But as things happen, it took one play to change the makeup of the whole season. The story is no longer the journey of David Garrard from backup to starter to champion. Instead, it's the story of perseverance, of faith, of resilience, of overcoming adversity.
This season is no longer about proving that we are better than the Colts. This season is no longer about proving our consistency against weaker teams. There are no more strong teams, there are no more weak teams. The only opponent on our schedule that we must over come is ourselves. Can we come together and rally around an unproven quantity in Quinn Gray and bring things together quickly enough in order to stay in the hunt. Yes, there is reason to keep the eyes on the prize, as we've got ten contests to prove our worth. We're on the edge of the season here, but that's not to say that we can't over come.
Have we lost all direction? Have we forgotten that we've established the most physical and powerful football team in the NFL? Have we forgotten that we can render most teams offense useless under the pressure of our defense? Do we remember our running game?
Things are not hopeless, though we must overcome.
It's remarkably simple, if you break it down. David will return in 3 or 4 weeks. Three road games against Tampa Bay, New Orleans, and the Tennessee Titans. If we beat the Titans, as well as one of the other two, we return home to host the Chargers with a record of 6-3, not a bad place to sit all things considered. Best case scenario has David coming back when we play San Diego and get another chance to prove that we're big time against what should be a good team.
We've got a good defense that's struggling a bit. We've got a running game that can win games. We've got a very good special teams that can really hurt opponents. For three weeks we need these groups to step up. The defense has to realize that the burden is on them to hold the team together. They know that they are the identity of the team and that they will define this period of the season. Should they step up and bring the knock knock, they will keep us alive through this stretch.
Here are my ten thoughts coming from the Monday Night Game.
- Our defense is suffering from a malaise. I'm not sure what it is, but if I were to guess it's a mixture of conservative play calling and a fear of the big play. The Jaguars are doing whatever it takes to keep the play in front of them and in doing so, allow dink and dunk passing and short runs to wear them out.
- Blown Coverage's in the Secondary, probably as a result of the 15 yard pads we're giving them to help protect the inexperience at safety, are going to kill the Jaguars.
- The Defensive Line's best player this season is Paul Spicer. If you think about who's on the d-line, that's a very scary thought. Big John and Stroud are not in Synch. Bobby McCray is proving that he did not deserve a huge contract, and Reggie is just not the same player he was before tearing his Achilles Tendon.
- I am completely freaking out about our defense, if you couldn't tell.
- The fans in the end zone I was sitting in were way too mean to the young girls wearing Manning Jerseys. I understand that it's "our house", but that dosen't merit the language and behavior tossed at these clearly teenage girls.
- Why was Jones-Drew still in the game with the outcome clearly set in stone? It's easy, Fred Taylor, Greg Jones, and Montell Owens are all important to our game. We diddn't have anyone to "spare" at running back. Do you risk your starter? Your starting fullback? Your best special teams gunner? All were too valuble to risk, to be quite frank. Maybe we should deactivate an extra defensive back or linebacker to make sure we've got a "camp body" in case of blowouts. The long and short of it was that we have no expendable players on our roster due to the players we have to carry.
- Matt Jones needs to be a wide receiver or off the team.
- Todd Bouman goes to show how thin the NFL is at quarterback. I dare say that this Injury to Garrard should encourage the league to push back the trading deadline just a bit. Seriously. We can't even tease our fans with Mark Brunell rumors because the deadline has passed. We can't trade for Jake Plummer or anything. Instead, we get Todd Bouman. I guess Aaron Brooks or Ryan Leaf weren't available.
- Seriously, Todd Bouman?
- Here's what we have to do. Beat three teams on the road using our Defense, Running Game, and Special teams.
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