With Monday night's game against the Colts being billed as a measuring stick, with an opportunity to take over first place in the division for the first time in five years, the Jaguars team fell flat on their collective faces, with a lot of assistance from the defending Super Bowl champs.
To make matters exponentially worse, the Jaguars lost their most irreplaceable player in quarterback David Garrard, as well as the current face of the franchise, and the team's best playmaker in Maurice Jones-Drew. At this point, it is unclear how much time either player will miss, and the Jaguars have a big three-game road trip looming, beginning next week in Tampa Bay.
Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio was asked if Garrard would not be available next week--
"I don't want to get too far ahead of it because we'll know more tomorrow. I think in all likelihood that's going to be the case. Now when we wake up tomorrow and we get back in here, we'll look at him again. He's got a pretty good sprain on it."
Regarding the injury to Jones-Drew, Del Rio commented--
"He got a little sprain on his knee but nowhere near like David did. He's going to be a little tender, but I'll know more tomorrow."
With the Jaguars currently sitting at 4-2, two games behind the Colts for first place in the AFC South, these next three road games will go a long way in determining whether or not the Jaguars will be playing football in January, and they will likely have to find a way to win without their leader in David Garrard.
Jack Del Rio was asked about his team being in "chase mode"--
"We're certainly familiar with it. We've been in that mode for a few years now. They're very good. They started the season exceptionally well. They've been undefeated now to start their year three years in a row, I believe, and so that is what it is. We've got to deal with it. We would have liked to have had a different outcome tonight but they earned it, they did a nice job tonight, they won it and so we go back to work and continue on and then we'll see them again down the road."
The Jaguars most likely replacement for David Garrard will be backup quarterback Quinn Gray, who played his first meaningful game since the 2006 season finale, where he mopped up in the second half for an ineffective Garrard. Quinn Gray struggled mightily against the Colts aggressive defense, completing just 9 of 24 passes for 56 yards, two interceptions, and a fumble. Gray's passer rating was just 11.1, nearly 100 points lower than the Jaguars starter, David Garrard.
Quinn Gray was asked about what the Colts did defensively--
"They were doing okay. They had five down in the box to chill our run game and make us pass the ball. I had some errant throws that got away from me that cost the interceptions."
Jaguars running back Fred Taylor was asked what the feeling was when Gray had to step in-
"I don't think anyone panicked. We all understood what the situation was. We all were trying to rally around Quinn. Its unfortunate things didn't go our way. Depending on how serious David's injury we all have to support Quinn now. He's been waiting in line and being patient waiting for his opportunity."
Jaguars wide receiver Ernest Wilford commented on the transition from Garrard to Gray--
"We moved the ball in the first series in the second half. We were in there mentally, physically and emotionally. Turnovers took a key part; we got this week to correct that."
The Jaguars can't afford to dwell on what happened Monday night with a tough trip across the state to Tampa Bay looming. After the trip to Tampa, the Jaguars will travel to New Orleans to play the Saints, who have won two in a row, followed by a trip to Tennessee, to try and avenge their opening day loss to the Titans, who also currently sit at 4-2.
Paul Spicer summed up what the Jaguars must do this week--
"It's a very short week. There is no 24- hour rule when you play on Monday night. We've got to take tomorrow, get the guys with little nicks, dings and bangs whatever it may be, we need them to get in here tomorrow and get their treatment done. You can't blink because the next thing you know we'll be out here practicing getting ready for Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay is a good team with a good solid defense; the offense has been definitely playing better."
The Jaguars players appear to be talking a good game in terms of staying level headed despite their recent setbacks. Talk only goes so far, and they will have to respond on the field if this team is going to have any hope of making a return trip to the playoffs in 2007.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.
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