Jaguars Adjustments

Perhaps the easiest job in the NFL is hindsight offensive, or defensive, or special teams coordinator. Making hindsight calls such as not going for it on fourth down when the team gets stopped, or not throwing the ball to a guy that will fumble are very easy calls to make, especially after you know what the final outcome would be.

This job of hindsight coordinator/head coach is so easy, that it doesn't even exist.

I've heard blanket criticisms of head coach Jack Del Rio over the past 24 hours for not having a suitable kicker for Sunday's game. If only Del Rio had the foresight to know that his place kicker, Josh Scobee, would get injured in warm-ups and not be able to kick. If you look at the situation, anyone could have seen it coming. Scobee has been the Jaguars kicker since 2004, and has never been injured. That's 49 consecutive games that he's played in, the injury was obviously long overdue! And how many teams in the NFL carry two kickers? 15, 20 teams? Actually all NFL teams carry just one kicker on their active roster. This has to be chalked up to an unfortunate circumstance that the Jaguars were caught in.

These were some words from coach Del Rio regarding the injury to Scobee–"Josh Scobee strained his quad prior to the start of the game in warm-ups, and obviously losing the guy that's going to kick the ball out of the end zone most of the time, the guy that can kick field goals limited to basically chip shots where he was going to be in pain but he could get it through from about an extra point or within the 10-yard line. During the course of the game we're fourth and 10 on the 19-yard line, I believe it was, and we don't even have a field goal out. So obviously we end up losing by three. That's a dramatic swing there to not have that available to you as a football team. It's unfortunate it happened, we had to deal with it and that's the way it goes sometimes. We'll go back to work tomorrow."

What the Jaguars coaching staff could've done better in this particular game had to do with offensive and defensive adjustments. Adjustments are defined by dictionary.com as harmony achieved by modification or change of a position. In Sunday's game, the Jaguars staff didn't appear to modify anything, despite the Titans continued success of pounding the Jaguars in the running game, so much pounding that the performance set franchise records for both teams in rushing attempts (49), and rushing yards (282).

So what would the easy solution have been? If a team is killing you on the ground, perhaps you should your defensive philosophy from a cover two, to a cover one or cover zero? In a cover one or cover zero defense, wide receivers are left one on one with defensive backs, opening the possibility of a big gain through the air. In this particular situation, the Titans wide receivers are amongst the worst in the league, and the Titans quarterback, Vince Young, had one of the worst passer ratings in the NFL last year. Cover one or zero is not a defense that you would want to employ often, but if you were ever going to use it, it would have been in this situation, against this team.

When Del Rio was asked about the Titans running game, he responded- "From my perspective, I think early when we broke down and misfit, we allowed them to get some momentum and have the clock and keep us on the field and do those types of things. Anytime you allow 49 rush attempts and you're not getting off the field like you need to, you're not stopping the run like you need to. So we allowed some of that of our own undoing early and then late they just pounded us. They had us worn down, I think, they had us on the field a lot and they just ran it right at us."

Offensively, the game plan seemed somewhat sound, as the Jaguars were attacking the Titans cover one defense. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, it appeared as if they abandoned the run entirely too soon, as the two Jaguars running backs, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew combined for just 13 carries, despite the Jaguars holding the lead for the majority of the game. When the team went for it on fourth and 10 from the Titans 19-yard line, a shuffle pass to running back Maurice Jones-Drew, behind the line of scrimmage was not the best call. Jones-Drew would have had to avoid numerous defenders just to get close to the 10 yards that were necessary to make a first down. I understand that it's difficult not having a kicker for a game, but if the team was going to go for it on fourth and ten, at least throw something downfield to give a receiver a legitimate opportunity to make a first down.

Quarterback David Garrard was asked about the offensive schemes, and he responded--"We've got some really good run-blocking linemen and I just think we were matched against a tough team with a tough defensive line that did a good job stopping the run. You hope you can come up with some things to get the running game going, but there's going to be days when that's tough and you have to go with the pass more. I think we just have to make more plays in the passing game to help out the running game."

Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith is widely regarded as one of the best at his position in the entire league. That being said, Smith's defenses have given up 350, 395, and 359 yards respectively in their last three games, all losses. For a team that proclaims itself as having one of the best defenses in the league, those stats show that it is "more bark, than bite." The Jaguars have lost their last four games, and are 6-9 in their last 15. The statistics over that period of time may not look like a below .500 team, but in the regular season wins and losses are all that counts, and it was clear that the team wearing blue had a superior game plan.


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