Less Likely Standouts for Jaguars

In the Jaguars 24-23 victory over Tampa Bay Sunday, the Jaguars were led by players that many didn't figure to even make the team in training camp. There's no official stat for this, but I can't remember a game in which one team scored three touchdowns, all by players that were inactive the week prior, in LaBrandon Toefield, Aaron Glenn, and Matt Jones.

In addition to those players, Rob Meier was a key contributor on defense, Scott Starks saw extended playing time in the secondary, Greg Estandia had the team's longest reception, and Quinn Gray led the team down the field for the go ahead score in the fourth quarter.

Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio addressed the gutsy performance in his post game press conference--

"What an effort. I am very proud of our guys. All the coaches, the players in that locker room, I really felt like you just witnessed a team empty their bucket. It required all of us. Obviously, this is a team that hadn't been beaten here at home. A lot of things, a lot of different factors that made this a difficult game; we came in here and the guys played with tremendous energy and determination. It wasn't the cleanest game I have ever coached, but certainly one of the most satisfying victories in terms of getting a complete effort. We had backups for backups, we had emergency guys that were thrown into spots and kept fighting, kept coming and kept banging away. We were able to scratch and claw a victory. We talked about having to scratch and claw and it didn't matter how we could get it, somehow, someway get win number five. We got that today and I am really proud of these guys."

Whereas the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are an average team at best, any victory on the road is a good victory. That victory compounds itself when a team can win without it's starting quarterback, and it compounds itself even more when the team is without a starting cornerback, and has injured running backs. Although a win is a win, the Jaguars wouldn't have defeated a lot of teams with the way they played both offense and defense last Sunday.

Jack Del Rio spoke about the effort--

"Obviously, a lot of things we need to look at, some good some bad. We will make the corrections and go on to the next one. It is the beginning of a three game road stretch that we are fortunate enough to have this year. We will try to make the most of it, and we got off to a good start tonight."

Our first JagNation game ball goes to cornerback Aaron Glenn. Glenn was active for the first time as a Jaguar, and was forced into a starting role thanks to the hamstring injury to Brian Williams. Everyone knew that Glenn was going to be picked on quite a bit by Jeff Garcia and the Tampa Bay offense, and he was up to the task.

Aaron Glenn talked about being prepared for this game--

"I go every week prepared to start, that's what you're supposed to do in this league, that's what a professional is supposed to do. One thing that if my number is called, I'll always be ready to play. It's not a fact that I think it's going to be me to come out there and start, I'm always prepared to start, they just called my number to play this week and I was ready."

Glenn's stellar play begs the question of why he was inactive for the Jaguars first six games, and will he be active next week? Coach Del Rio usually doesn't get into specifics for the next game, but Glenn certainly made a compelling case with his play on the field.

Jack Del Rio talked about the defense specifically--

"Brian Williams wasn't able to go, so Aaron Glenn steps in and obviously had a huge impact on the game. That is why he is here. We are fortunate enough to have a guy like that that is capable to step in, [a] veteran presence, [a] good football player. They tried to check off and throw one at him; he took it the distance for a big play in the game. Obviously, we did some good things today. The defense rose up. At the end there, that kind of game can get away from you there. You don't ever want to give them the ball back. They were called upon to go out there, to get a stop. [The] defense came up big and got another takeaway and iced the win."

Beyond the numbers

Some of the other "no name" players that helped the Jaguars stay undefeated on the road were Rob Meier, who finished with two tackles and 1.5 sacks, and LaBrandon Toefield, whose six carries for 12 yards appear to be unimpressive from the stat sheet, until you look at his pair of third down conversions and his touchdown run. Scott Starks didn't make the stat sheet on defense, but he filled in admirably for Aaron Glenn when he was struggling with cramps, and he chipped in on kickoff returns. Greg Estandia made a diving catch early on in the game for 30 yards, making him the team's leading receiver for the game (in terms of yardage), and Adam Podlesh finished with a 45.5 yard average on eight punts including a career high 76-yarder, which pinned the Bucs back deep in the fourth quarter. Former first round pick Matt Jones ended his scoring drought by making a fantastic one-handed catch on a fade pattern in the corner of the end zone.

Jaguars running back Fred Taylor described the effort of the lesser known players--

"It was a total team effort tonight, guys were stepping in, guys were cramping up. Aaron Glen, he picked the ball off, he hadn't been getting that many reps throughout the season. He cramped up, Scott Starks had to come in there. All these guys were getting IV's at halftime. Everybody got an opportunity to touch the ball. Quinn [Gray], he controlled the game without hurting anything. The defense played well, they played an outstanding game. The bottom line is we got the win. Pretty ugly but it didn't matter, we got the victory."

Jaguars quarterback Quinn Gray described the Jaguars running game--

"They put nine guys in the box and we still ran the ball on them. The game plan was we knew they were going to stack the box because we have a good running game with Fred [Taylor] and Maurice [Jones-Drew] back there. The offensive line did a great job with the things that were stacked against them as far as the eight guys in the box, sometimes nine. They did a tremendous job opening holes here and there for Fred and Maurice and especially [LaBrandon] Toefield. Toe stepped up this week. When my number was called I tried to do the best I could to put points on the board. We did that towards the end."

Last but certainly not least we must talk about the play of quarterback Quinn Gray. Gray was wildly ineffective for much of the day, but he made just enough plays when he needed to make them. Gray appeared to get into a little more of a rhythm as the game went on, and some of his ineffectiveness could've been in part to the Jaguars run-filled game plan which saw them begin the game with 14 consecutive rushes.

Quinn Gray described the Jaguars run-filled game plan--

"It was part of [the game plan]. Whatever it takes to win. We're just trying to put points on the board, and if it takes running the ball 15 to 20 times before we throw a pass, so be it. We're just trying to get the win. Right now we're on a three game road trip ahead of us. Number one is down, we came out with a win. We have to go and watch the film, get better from my mistakes, and go on to road game number two."

If the Jaguars are going to beat better teams with Gray under center, he must improve, but right now his career record as a starter is 1-0. New Orleans will likely prove to be an even tougher test for Gray and the Jaguars.



Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.


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