Ok Jaguar fans, time to take a step back and try and identify the positives and negatives of our terrible loss against the Colts. I've had a hell of a time wrapping my mind around this loss, and every time I looked over my game notes or re-watched the film I got pretty upset. It's not the penalties or the mistakes, it's the general feeling I got watching the Game in Indianapolis that we were on the cusp of finally getting this off our back and yet we'd still end up leaving upset.
Of course, it didn't help that I listened to three hours of Colts Radio as I drove home, hearing all the excited fans talk a little trash about the Jaguars was painful. I thought about calling in, just to see what would happen, but I drove out of the station range and instead tried to reconcile what I saw with what I thought.
Now, although the game turned out the wrong way, we did have some positives. Let's take a look.
David Garrard and HIS offense: What makes the Jaguars very dangerous on offense is the way that David Garrard keeps very long drives alive. The Jaguars didn't really get the ball in the first quarter, but the offense clearly dominated in the 2nd. David had one drive of 16 plays, 84 yards and over eleven minutes off of the clock. David threw for 14 first downs, and led the Jaguars to a 60% 3rd down conversion rate. Combine that with 257 yards passing, two touchdowns, and completing 24 of 29 passes and you have a damn fine day. He overcame the loss of two out of 3 tight ends by spreading the ball around to 8 different receivers, including the new Tight End Richard Angulo When we needed a good pass, we got it out of David. Once again, he kept us alive where we'd be dead otherwise. So he's finally thrown his first interception of the season, I could care less. As long as he's doing what he's done in every game this season, we'll be just fine.
Reggie Nelson, Defensive Rookie of the Year: Yup, I said it, he's the defensive rookie of the year. Ok, maybe I need to do a little more research before I say that, but he's played well. 4 interceptions on the season, including one fantastic read on an improvising Manning for a huge end zone interception. A Colts score would have put the game out of reach, instead we get a critical big play on defense when we needed it most, and also the fun of seeing Manning have to make a tackle. In all honesty, this was probably the only good play out of a defensive back so far this season. Reggie is not without his mistakes though, he came in too shallow to cover Dallas Clark on the long touchdown by Reggie Wayne. Of course, that's what the Colts offense does to you with all their threats.
Fred Taylor, coming on strong: We watched Fred Taylor pass another career mark, this time moving past Ottis Anderson for 20th all time in Rushing Yards. Fred's been on fire the last two weeks, with consecutive 100 yard rushing games. Fred had some big runs against the Colts, including a 29 yard run. There was one run where Fred slipped, fell down, got up and kept running for the first down without being touched. He's always played well against the Colts, today was no exception.
Honorable Mention: Marcades Lewis, Richard Angulo, and Isaac Smolko. The tight ends had a pretty big challenge going into this game with the replacements coming in. Marcades stepped up with 5 catches for 42 yards and a touchdown, Angulo 2 receptions for 11 yards. Isaac had no catches, but did well enough to dress and was clearly ready to step up. It takes 53 men to win a football game, the replacement tight ends were ready to be the next man up.
Pass Defense, where is it?: Seriously, there is a massive problem with our passing defense? The Colt's receivers seemed to run around untouched all game just waiting for Manning to throw the ball. Reggie Wayne destroyed us for 158 yards, we allowed 4 passing touchdowns, for a total of 288 yards. Worse yet, we let the Colts convert 14 times for first downs through the air. Joseph Addai was stuffed, you'd think we could get guys into coverage well enough to stop somebody.
Rashean Mathis: are you still hurt?: Seriously, why was Mathis matched up against Anthony Gonzalez the whole game? Was he still hurt enough from the groin injury two weeks ago to cover Reggie Wayne? If so, why didn't we activate Aaron Glenn and have another solid cornerback available?
Reggie Williams: stupid, stupid, stupid: Reggie Williams got tricked into drawing a critical penalty. Players have to know that it's the second player that gets flagged. Sure, Hayden knocked him down after the whistle, but you can't fall to their level and retaliate like that. We all know what happened after that penalty, we had to settle for 3 points when 7 wins the game. I'm not gonna jump on the "bench Reggie" bandwagon, but he oughta know the consequences of what he did.
Dishonorable Mention: The Officials, the Crowd Noise, False Start Penalties, people who accuse the Jaguars of whining, whining players, Paul Spicer's mouth
I don't know if you're interested, but below the fold I'm gonna put my "game notes". I wrote these while riding home from the Game. This was without re-watching the game, looking at stats or anything, just the straight "what I thought I saw" thoughts on the game.
Coming up tomorrow, film breakdown, media wrap-up, and the first look at next week's game against the Carolina Panthers. Also, special thanks to Big Blue Shoe and Stampede Blue for a great week of interaction.
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NOTE: what you see below is what I thought, rapid fire style, of the game as I rode home. It is not fact checked against the stats or the film. I just thought you might like a look inside the mind of Big Cat Country...
- Reggie Wayne is a very interesting player to watch before a game. He has his own "corner" of the stadium and when it's time to go into the Locker room before the game starts, he stations himself as far away from the tunnel as possible in that corner and insists on being the last man off the field. On his walk back, he gets the crowd pumped up. I liked watching him before the game MUCH more than I did during the game.
- Like I said a few days ago, Jacksonville needed to do a few very simple things to win against the Colts. We failed to avoid stupid penalties, we failed to keep mental composure, and we failed to win a game that we were at times dominating.
- Reggie Williams, your stock had gone so high over the last several weeks, now you're making mistakes that cost the Jaguars an almost certain touchdown. Even though that little shove was provoked, you failed to understand that it's the retaliation that always draws the flag. When 7 points is turned into 4, and you lose by 3 points, it's pretty bad.
I also hated seeing the AFC South and Super Bowl Champion banners hanging from the ceiling.
The first quarter lasted almost an hour with the challenge fest. I like how when Dungy threw the flag the fans cheered his "great coaching", but when Del Rio did the same, he was soundly booed. I know, I know, it's what fans do, but sometimes it's silly.
How that was an incomplete pass and not a fumble is beyond me. If you follow this site, you'll know that I don't mess around with being Referee nonsense. I'm of the philosophy that in the scheme of things that they'll even out.
Of course, this game had some really questionable calls. It's like the Jaguars couldn't get anything going their way no matter how insignificant. For example, the fumble on the Jaguars first possession was absolutely ridiculous, there was no way to follow where the ball went in the scrum and should not have been overturned. I understand that they often have very little to make their judgments with, but that's why the "indisputable visual evidence" comes into play.
Jacksonville was completely dominating on offense when they weren't killing themselves with penalties. We had two grind-house drives, one as long as 11 min. The Jaguars offense really clicked under Garrard's leadership. I can't find fault with any of his decisions, I'm not even bothered by the interception...
Actually, there was one throw that I was glad got nullified by a false start, Garrard threw a pick 6, thankfully the Ref's stopped the madness before things got out of hand. Marcades Lewis false start.
Fred Taylor and Jones-Drew looked great, especially when they'd attack the very soft middle of the defense. Maybe it was all the injuries at DT for the Colts, but they are very soft up the middle.
The Jaguars secondary was terrible in covering the pass. Save for Reggie Nelson's interception, they have absolutely nothing positive to look forward to in the film room.
That said, I absolutely LOVED seeing Manning panic as he not only threw the pick, but was the only person between Nelson and a touchdown. Sure, he made the tackle, but you can't ask for more out of a play than an interception and a hit on the quarterback.
I said the Jaguars would have a choice between Blitz and Cover, I thought once again we erred on the side of Cover. We got to Manning early, but I don't know what happened later on. I've always thought you help out a struggling secondary by increasing the pressure on the QB, but as the game went on that pressure seemed to go down.
Why was Mathis assigned to Gonzalez and Williams got Reggie Wayne?
Where was Sammy Knight? And by that I mean, he seemed to do nothing all game.
Matt Jones actually looked OK at the end of the game, he made two important catches.
I thought we were going to have it made when Northcutt returned the punt almost to the end zone, but in the tradition of the Jaguars self distracting, we had a block in the back.
Manning dropped his eyes to watch for the blitz. Manning doesn't normally do that.
It's really quite sad, Jacksonville had the plays at just the right time to win the game, but for every step forward we took three steps backward.
This season, up until this afternoon, showed that Jacksonville grew up from the immaturity and mistakes that held them just below the elite teams. Today, the Jaguars regressed back to their old tricks. The False Starts were inexcusable, considering how often we've played in that stadium.
Nothing, however, can forgive Reggie Williams for his shove late in the game. Jacksonville was about to have 1st and goal on the Indianapolis 2 yard line and he goes and gets drawn into a shoving match. We go backwards, false start, and then a huge sack to put Scobee in the unenviable position of kicking a 47 yard field goal (after he missed a 46 yard earlier in the game). We lost 45 yards because of a tremendously stupid and short sighted decision. Clearly Reggie Williams doesn't get the whole "team" mentality, because even if he "wins" in his shoving match, the team is going to get hosed by the penalty. In this case, that Touchdown turned into Field Goal cost us the game. We could be sitting pretty with a gritty win over Indianapolis right now, rather than sitting shitty with a nasty taste in our mouth.
Of course, there is something to be said about Character defining wins. You might recall that last season we destroyed the Colts and it was enough to turn them around and go all the way. Like I've been saying all week, we're still doing fine in the Playoff hunt, as long as we take care of business against Oakland and Carolina we'll get 10 wins (at the least, clearly) and I imagine we'll be back in Indianapolis at some point, this time in a game that really matters.
Let's not lose perspective here, I'm terribly upset at the play of the team. The mental mistakes, not Peyton Manning cost us the game. It wasnt the hits of Bob Sanders, but the hit of Reggie Williams that sent us home feeling like losers. But these mistakes are going to stick out on flim and they can be fixed. I don't care what other people say about our disipline and our coaching, I think these are perfectly simple things to fix. Remember, we've not had an issue with these on the field problems all season, a one game fluke, provided that it's fixed, will forgive a lot of problems.
And we get Marcus Stroud back this week!