Watching the game last night was a terrifying and concerning event for me. The cognative dissonance of watching the Miami Dolphins look like playoff contenders and the Jaguars look like bottom feeders despite knowing that this team is better than it looks really ruined my night. That and the eight minutes of "technical difficulties" that the local Orlando broadcast went through in the second quarter.
The Jaguars were awful and they were worse than awful with their starters than anything else. The passing game was rough, to say the least, with Mike Walker still dropping passes and Troy Williamson accumulating a whopping zero catches. There was a play when Troy was sent deep, but he did not blow away the coverage and the pass fell incomplete. Ryan Hoag was our leading receiver, with a 53 yard catch. You might recall that the Jaguars did an awful lot to improve the recieving corps, yet two weeks into preseason and Ryan Hoag is outperforming everyone else?
But despite all the offensive miscues, the fumble, the missed pass to Mike Walker, nothing scares me more then the unmitigated disaster I saw on defense. Typically it's considered a bad sign when defensive backs lead the defense in tackles. When Rashean Mathis makes more tackles than Mike Peterson (5 to 3), you know that there's a problem.
Quentin Groves is learning that his speed is a liability in stopping the run, as he failed to have any sort of real effect on the field. The rest of the defensive line was a mess, making Chad Pennington look like a real quarterback and even allowing two nine yeard scrambles. There was no push, no speed, no emotion, it was watching professional athletes go through the motions. I can only imagine what Gregg Williams is feeling right now as he breaks down film and realizes just how fundamentally awful they played.
This team is at what can only be the lowest of low points. The offense is out of synch to a huge degree, partially because the receivers are decimated by injury. The offensive line is not performing like the powerhouse of last season, again because of injury. If it's always darkest before the dawn, than I've never seen anything more black and bleak than this game.
Even the bright spot, a nice return game with Brian Witherspoon, is now a problem, as he's suffered from a sprained ankle, one he described as "real bad".
Enter the Teaching Moment:
I'm sure everyone has used something bad as a point of reference toward making something good. It's refered to as a teaching moment, a point where a leader can utilize bad results as a chance to correct future behavior. Sometimes a bad game is just a bad game, they'll look at the film and correct a thing or two and it's not a problem. A game like last night's debacle is not that type of bad game. It must be made into an example to the entire team. It must be driven into their heads that they are not a hyped theam that's playoff bound. They made the Miami Dolphins look good, and that's disgustingly bad on the Jaguars part.
This game, this film, this whole encounter with the Dolphins must serve as a teaching moment. Jack Del Rio has to turn this into a moment where the team comes together and moves on, because if the team of last night is the team of 2008 we'll be thinking about the draft in December, not the Playoffs.