Jacksonville did many of the same things they've done this season to accomplish their 4-7 record, and a few extras on Sunday as they really went above and beyond the call of duty to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, or in this case even respectability. Before the Jaguars were able to run their second offensive play they found themselves down 14-0 on a series of mistakes. Brad Meester was unaware that quarterback David Garrard was in shotgun formation on the first play from scrimmage and the result was a 27-yard scoop and score by Vikings linebacker Napoleon Harris. The ensuing kickoff return was fumbled by rookie Brian Witherspoon and the comedy of errors was just beginning.
Still, Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio would not let his team get down despite the abysmal start—
"I gathered the team and said there's an awful lot of football left, don't sit here and sulk and feel sorry for yourself. Let's go compete and get ourselves back in this game. We've dug ourselves a hole, let's dig our way out of it."
The Jaguars would do just that as they scored just two drives later, and were able to stay within a score for most of the first half. But mistakes and self-inflicted wounds would be the order of the day for the Jaguars, and the ever-reliable Josh Scobee would miss two field goals from 46 and 38 yards respectively that would've cut the Minnesota lead to just one point.
"I need to get back and hit some good balls in practice this week," Scobee said. I can't live with that. It's not something I'm going to accept. I'm not happy with myself."
As big of momentum breakers as Scobee's missed field goals were, he only contributed to the devastating outcome, as he was far from the only reason the Jaguars laid an egg. With Jacksonville down just one score at 17-10 in the third period, wide receiver Matt Jones caught a nice pass on a curl route and when he tried to run upfield he fumbled the football. That play once again broke momentum and Minnesota would cash in with a field goal to put them up by two scores and Jacksonville would get no closer. In fact they wouldn't score another offensive point.
The problems and lack of plays made by the Jaguars on Sunday is seen as a microcosm for the season by Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio. "From my perspective, it's been all year. There have been too many easy giveaway plays, whether it be defensive lapses, whether it be offensive, not taking care of…whether it be special teams. There are just too many plays being given away."
Although there was another team on the field playing, the Jaguars did more to shoot themselves in the foot than Minnesota did to put them away. Jacksonville outgained Minnesota by nearly 100 yards of total offense (321-226), had almost three times the passing yardage (286-104), and even finished with a higher third-down conversion rate (42%-30%). All of these numbers didn't mean much to the final outcome.
Jaguars quarterback David Garrard is seemingly under the false impression that his team has a functional offense.
"I wasn't worried at all with the points on the board," Garrard said. "I knew we were able to move the ball. I felt it before we pulled up to the stadium and then we were able to do it. After the first possession, we got into a little rhythm. Even in the second half, we were able to move the ball, we just kept beating ourselves."
The Jaguars offense hasn't been finishing drives and has been "beating themselves" all season long. The Jaguars offense has averaged slightly better than 18 points per game this season and although they have moved the ball on occasion, it hasn't equaled points, and most importantly it hasn't equaled wins. Although Garrard has the confidence of a bank robber, he is just as much a part of the offensive problems as he is the solution to them. Few quarterbacks have lost more yardage in sacks (30-210) and his 9:8 touchdown to interception ratio is average to below average. Not exactly what's expected from a guy who's being paid as a top-ten signal caller.
"We're going to evaluate everything and everyone and we're not going to settle for that, ever," Del Rio exclaimed. "So that process will begin. Obviously, it's going to be intensified."
Five turnovers plus two missed field goals, plus eight penalties for 81 yards, plus a 25% red zone efficiency equals yet another disappointing home loss and an appearance at the bottom of the AFC South standings for a team that was supposed to contend for an AFC title.
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