Quote of the week:
"We can't run. We can't pass. We can't stop the run. We can't stop the pass. We can't kick. Other than that, we're just not a very good football team right now."
Bruce Coslet, on the Bengals' 1997 season
Thankfully, the Jaguars are not in the same position the 1997 Bengals were. This is a team that has the potential to overachieve this season, and I look for us to finish at least 8-8. Jack Del Rio has shown he's most effective when working with young men, and make no mistake, this is a young team. Jack Del Rio is directly tied to the defense's success, and he should be judged based on their progress through the season. If we defend the Patriots pass attack well in December, that will say a lot about where we are as a defense.
Three Coordinators + Three Years = Defensive Confusion
Jack Del Rio is directly responsible for the team's move to a 3-4 defensive scheme, and if it continues to fail so epically through the season, it falls on his shoulders. We have the personnel to stop the run. Two of our three defensive linemen are powerful against the rush, and three of our linebackers are literally tackling machines. Their issues in defense have come from being out of position, which is a result of learning a new scheme, and having their third defensive coordinator who is making major changes, in three years. This isn't entirely Jack's fault, as he's trying to replace an irreplaceable defensive coordinator, in Mike Smith.
The jury is still out on Mel Tucker, as he was brought here with the expectation he would coach up our talented, yet struggling secondary. So far, Reggie Nelson continues to be inconsistent, although the strides Derek Cox is making can't, and shouldn't be discounted. Derek Cox is going to be a long-term fixture at corner for the Jaguars. On the play he dropped the interception in the end-zone, he was extremely disciplined. Even though Vince Young is known as a short to intermediate passer, Derek didn't bite on the double move by Nate Washington, and as a result, he almost got an interception. He has already surpassed B-Dub in ability, and I have been pleasantly surprised by Derek's ball-skills and tackling. He seems to rarely miss a tackle when he gets his hands on the ball-carrier.
Persistently Inconsistent Offense
One of the major issues the Jaguars have struggled with is consistency on offense. Despite having 100 million dollars in a RB and a FB, the team continues to pursue the route of a pass-first offense. Gone are the days where 12-18 play drives were to be expected each week in Duval. Gone are the games made of low-risk, mistake free football. Gone are the days of the play-action pass reigning supreme. However, our offensive coordinator is the same. So, that begs the question... Why?
It is quite simple actually. Dirk was brought here to bring the high-flying attack to North Florida that he had at ASU. When he got here, he was conservative, and played towards the Jaguars' strengths. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said today. He's had his play selection slammed by MJD and he's also faced questions from veteran and leader of the WR corp, Torry Holt. If Dirk can't get back to what's successful by focusing on the Jaguars strengths, he'll hold the team down. Unfortunately, he's tied entirely to Del Rio, and Jack cannot get rid of Dirk to bring someone else in. If anyone goes in the next two years, it will be Jack himself. If that happens, and let's hope it doesn't, it will mean this team is going to be in rebuilding for at least three seasons.