In what can only be described as an abject failure, the Jacksonville Jaguars failed to meet the Tennessee Titans challenge and win the game.
Only one statistic, in my opinion, matters. Jacksonville allowed Chris Brown to rush for 175 yards. If you add in LenWhale and Vince Young, we allowed 282 yards on the ground. But it's far worse than that. We allowed Chris Brown to eviscerate us up the middle. Through Stroud and Henderson, through Mike Peterson and our linebackers.
Because they ran so much, they controlled the clock and wore our defense down. Yeah, our offense couldn't stay on the field, but the Titans were able to convert 41% of their third downs, most of which at critical moments. Worse than that, 15 of their 22 first downs came on the ground. In the 4th quarter we were letting them pound us and keep the ball, preventing whatever comeback we'd attempt by leaving David and Company on the sidelines. Though it's not like Fred and Maurice would have helped with their 72 total rush yards.
This is not to say that the only problem we had was in our defense. We had no ground game. I felt like I was watching the Anti-Jaguars. No defense, no running game, and our only plays coming through the air. It was hard to watch. In more ways than one, of course. You see, I struggle to watch the games here in my exile in the Midwest. It took three sports bars and some careful convincing to even get the game on in a room full of Chiefs and Rams fans. My heart raced as I heard that David scored a TD on a deep ball to John Broussard (Alumni of my favorite west coast school San Jose State, yet once I finally saw it for my own eyes it was nothing but disappointment. Everything I thought I knew about the Jaguars was wrong, at least in this game.
All this aside, let's look at some facts and see if we can make any conclusions.
- Reggie Nelson looked pretty good. 7 Tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble. I know that the legitimacy of tackle stats is questionable, but I never saw Reggie make any terrible mistakes in coverage. I need to watch the game a little closer to be sure, but I'm pleased with his first game.
- We need another kicker. It is very difficult to win in the NFL when you can only kick 25 yard or shorter field goals. Look at how many games come down to a mid-range or longer kick. Josh Scobee injured his hamstring during warm-ups and was limited to kicks of less than 25 yards. And we should be thankful we had that, Adam Podlesh filled in admirably in his first start, but never had any serious experience at kicking field goals. This led to Jacksonville having to leave 3 points on the field when they had to go for it on 4th and 10. Three points is the margin of victory. NOTE: when I say we need another kicker, I don't mean replacing Scobee, I mean for the short term until he's healthy.
- Wide Receivers Dropping Balls. Matt Jones dropped a TD in the end zone; Dennis Northcutt dropped one on the sideline. It makes me sick.
- David Garrard: 1 TD, 204 yards, 88.8 passer rating. The only bright spot on our offense. Had he had a little bit of a running game, we'd be celebrating right now, rather than looking for something positive.
- The Titans, Texans and Colts all won this weekend. Jacksonville lost. Not only did we lose our opening game, but also now we're behind in the division. You know, the AFC South, the one we're supposed to dominate this season.
Our running game could have the same problem. We didn't work it very hard in camp or the preseason because it was our "sure thing". I get the impression that our Offensive Line needs a good kick in the ass on run blocking after getting so used to going backwards for the passing game.
David Garrard looked composed, confident, and good. As of today, Jack was right in what he did with Byron. I hope this continues into next week.
Remember folks, the 24 hour rule is in effect. Go over to [Music City Miracles http:www.musiccitymiracles.com] and congratulate them on a gritty win. Who would have expected them to come into "The Jack" and grind us down on the ground.