When the Jaguars went 12-4 to make the playoffs last year, the key to their success was their ability to beat losing teams. They went 9-1 against losing teams and coach Jack Del Rio said a team needs to beat the teams they're supposed to beat and split the rest to make the playoffs.
But this year, they've lost their touch against the losing teams. Their 27-24
loss to the Buffalo Bills dropped them to 6-5 this year and four of the losses
have come against losing teams.
Now they go to Miami to play a Dolphins team that has a losing record at 5-6 but
has been on a roll and will have had 10 days to prepare after their Thanksgiving
victory in Detroit. The Jaguars will have to go 4-1 in their last five games to
get the 10-6 record that it usually takes to get a wild card spot and even a
10-6 mark doesn't always make it.
They still have two teams on their way to winning division titles --
Indianapolis and New England -- on their schedule, along with a season-ending
game at Kansas City on New Year's Eve. If the Jaguars don't get on a roll, they
could finish 8-8 or worse.
That would put Del Rio on the hot seat in 2007 because he'd need to win a
playoff game or he'd have five consecutive years without a playoff victory and
he might not survive that. That's why Del Rio had a clear message for his team
after the loss to the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. He said the Jaguars need to
play with more emotion and fire at the start of games after they fell behind 7-0
at the end of the first quarter and 17-14 at halftime.
"The guys need to be a little more emotionally into it, especially when
we're playing a team we feel like you should beat. We need to prepare a little
harder and come out with a little bit more fire, a little bit more zeal.
Something needs to happen early in the game," quarterback David Garrard
He added, "Basically, we've got to light a fire under our bellies. We just
can't come out lax, if that's the word for it, to start the game. We've got to
come out with some emotion. Basically, that's what Jack (Del Rio) kept hammering
home on us."
Cornerback Rashean Mathis said, "We came out slow. That's been something
we've been trying to get rid of in some games. This is a game we didn't come out
fast and it bit us in the butt at the end."
Defensive end Paul Spicer said, "Jack's a fiery coach and he's kind of
emotional to the team. He knows we were a little flat coming out. Most of the
time, when everybody is fired up and taking care of business, we take care of
business. Today, that flatness showed."
The Jaguars also have some injury problems. When cornerback Brian Williams sat
out the Buffalo game with a hamstring injury, he became the fourth defensive
starter to be sidelined. They've already lost Reggie Hayward, Mike Peterson and
Donovin Darius for the season.
Rookie Dee Webb, a seventh-round draft pick from Florida, got his first start at
cornerback in place of an ailing Brian Williams and struggled at times. He was
guilty of a pass interference penalty against Lee Evans that set up a touchdown.
He intercepted a pass but then fumbled it away, he also and got caught inside
and lost leverage when Willis McGahee bounced outside for a 30-yard touchdown
The Jaguars eventually changed their strategy and had Rashean Mathis cover Evans
all over the field and played Scott Starks on the other side, although Webb
still played in nickel situations.
The mounting injury list may be taking its toll on the Jaguars.
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