At this point in 2006, the Jaguars had a record of 4-3. This year, they are one game better at 5-2. A year ago, there were many concerns with the offense, mainly because then starting quarterback Byron Leftwich went down with another ankle injury, and long-time back up David Garrard was filling in.
Currently, the Jaguars offense ranks 20th overall averaging 317.3 yards per game. They rank 27th in the passing game with 171.0 yards per game, and fourth in rushing with 146.3 yards per game. They are18th in the NFL in the all important statistic of scoring, with 18.7 points per game. A year ago at this time, the Jaguars averaged 178 passing yards per game, 129 rushing yards per game, and 19.7 points per game. As you can see, both offenses put up very similar numbers, however one team was 5-2 and one was 4-3. So what's the difference? Consistency.
The 2006 team was wildly inconsistent, and that's made painfully obvious by their 8-8 record. You never knew what Jaguars team was going to show up on a week to week basis. One Sunday they would blow out an eventual playoff team 41-0, then lose to a horrible double-digit loss team 27-7. The 2007 team however, appears to be very consistent. Thus far they've beaten the teams they should beat (with the exception of Tennessee), and have played well on the road (3-0 record). Now, this of course sounds silly with David Garrard injured and on the sideline and the Jaguars running the ball nearly 50 times with Quinn Gray in the game, but for all intents and purposes, you know what you're going to get. The problem with the 2006 offense was that while it might have averaged around 170 passing yards per game, you didn't know if you were going to get 100 yards or 300+ yards in the air on a given week. With this 2007 team under David Garrard, you know exactly what you're getting. You are going to get that 170 passing yards average, at least, and possibly more. The way the passing offense was progressing before the injury made many think it was about to explode, and it did somewhat against the Houston Texans, in Garrard's last full game up to this point. The Jaguars racked up 450+ total yards and 38 points.
Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio described the play of David Garrard before his injury-
"David is a good player and he's getting better. You can see his confidence is growing. His teammates' confidence is growing in him and we just want David to continue to play, work the process and play like he's playing, and plays are going to come. He's one of our top playmakers. This guy is making plays to help us win games right now. Whether it be crucial third down conversations through the air, whether it be great first, second down, moving the chains, whether it be with his feet or his arm, this guy is making plays. I know maybe the perception of it is different than what I feel about it, but I feel like he's one of our great playmakers on offense and I think he's one of the good young players at that position in the league."
Many questioned the move made by head coach Jack Del Rio prior to the start of the year to release Byron Leftwich, but so far Del Rio looks right. If nothing else, Garrard has provided the consistency this offense has lacked under Leftwich. Under Leftwich, you could get a great game like against Washington in 2006 where he single handedly kept the Jaguars afloat, or you would get the Byron Leftwich against Houston in 2006, who couldn't hit the broadside of a barn. With Garrard, so far you've gotten solid to very good every game he's played. Consistency appears to be what the 2006 offense was missing, and with that element sprinkled into the 2007 team, along with the play calling of Dirk Koetter, it appears as if this Jaguars offense could be very good, despite glaring holes at the wide receiver position. Hopefully for the Jaguars, when David Garrard returns he can step right back in to where he left off, and this offense can continue to progress and become more dynamic.
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