Winning Ugly - Jaguars Over Packers

A win is a win, right? Not when it's preseason football. In the preseason, the more tangible phrase is, "it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game." The Jaguars may have escaped Lambeau Field with a 21-13 victory Thursday night, but the first team offense and defense didn't play the game very well at all.

In the third preseason game, a game which is supposed to resemble a "real game" the most, the Jaguars starting offensive and defensive units had their worst performances of the preseason.

Photo:  Jonathan Daniel, Getty ImagesOffensively, the Jaguars didn't seem to have much of a rhythm all night long, despite having just one drive in which they didn't record a first down. Quarterback Byron Leftwich didn't play as bad as his stats would indicate (6/16, 67 yds., 51.8 QB rating) due to three drops, but he certainly wasn't sharp. Leftwich missed Northcutt twice on deep passes, and he misfired on a few short, underneath passes. Some of the reason for Leftwich's struggles were due to the wide receivers not getting much separation at all against the Green Bay first team defense. Without the Jaguars really trying to establish the running game and a balanced offense, the passing game was noticeably off for the entire first half.

Defensively, the Jaguars put forth their worst effort of the preseason, allowing 10 first half points, 7 of which came when Packers backup Aaron Rodgers led the Packers down the field on an 80 yard drive. The Jaguars tackling was poor all night long, and their starting secondary was burnt with regularity, even last seasons' first team All-Pro Rashean Mathis. Terry Cousin received extended playing time in the first half and seemed a step slow all night long. Cousin couldn't keep up with the speedy Green Bay receivers, and looked like an old man playing a young man's game.

Positives for the Jaguars were the play of the starting offensive line, which allowed no sacks, and not much pressure from the Packers defensive line. Another positive was certainly the play of backup quarterback David Garrard. Garrard shredded the Packers second team defense en route to a 6/7, 97 yard performance, with a perfect QB rating of 158.3. Garrard didn't make any bad throws into coverage for the first time in this preseason. Other positives were the punting of Adam Podlesh, who averaged 42.0 yards per punt. Tony Gilbert, James Wyche, and Derek Landri looked impressive, as they were all over the field, and combined for three sacks. George Wrighster caught two balls for 33 yards and a touchdown, and D.D. Terry put up his second straight solid rushing performance, gaining 29 yards on just five carries, and also catching a pass for 29 yards.

Even though the Jacksonville starters left this game down 10-0, all is not lost and Jaguars fans shouldn't worry too much. There is no game planning in the preseason, and nobody should lose their job based upon any games that don't count in the standings. Head coach Jack Del Rio reaffirmed Byron Leftwich as the teams' starting quarterback for the season opener, but showed his appreciation for the play of Garrard on this night.

"We recognize where we need to get better. I continue to have confidence in what we're doing and who we're doing it with. We're very fortunate to have a quarterback in reserve as talented as David is."

The Jaguars will close out their preseason next Thursday night at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium against the Washington Redskins, kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. Starters are expected to play very little, and the Jaguars will likely be auditioning players who are battling for some of the final roster spots.



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