Thursday, November 4, 2010
Bye Report: Jacksonville Jaguars
By Paul Kuharsky
Our 10-point bye report on the Jacksonville Jaguars:
Major issue: Inconsistency. They looked great in wins over Dallas and Indianapolis and did what they needed to against Denver and Buffalo. But they were terrible against San Diego, Philadelphia, Tennessee and Kansas City. To have a chance in the AFC South, the Jaguars will have to be a steadier team in the second half.
Playmaker update: Marcedes Lewis has been outstanding with seven touchdowns in 25 receptions and Mike Thomas is developing well and leads the team in catches. Still, this team needs to develop the stable of guys beyond Maurice-Jones Drew to consistently threaten a defense.
Protection issues: David Garrard plays a lot better when he’s well protected, and the pass protection has been up and down. Right tackle Eben Britton is out for the season, replaced by Jordan Black. In the Dallas game, Vince Manuwai may have wrestled the left guard spot away from Justin Smiley.
Score more: The Jaguars have been outscored 226-165. Jack Del Rio has said a blowout or close loss are the same to him, but they shouldn’t be. Playing well in a loss is much healthier than playing poorly. The only teams with worse point differentials are Buffalo, Arizona, Carolina and Denver. That’s not who you want to be bunched with.
Automatic: Josh Scobee is a perfect 19-for-19 on field goals, and nine of them have been from 40 yards or longer. He’s the only kicker in the league with more than six attempts who’s perfect. And his 59-yarder to win the Colts game on the final play was a kick he’ll have a hard time topping in his career.
Safety concerns: They’ve played them all -- trading one away and cutting another, twice -- and are going with kids Courtney Greene and Don Carey right now. It’s good experience for them, but it’s hard to imagine that this spot won't a huge offseason project. All the uncertainty at safety has made things harder on cornerbacks Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox and David Jones, who haven’t always been as bad as they have looked at their low moments.
Star performance: Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging 4.0 yards a carry, but he actually has more passing touchdowns (two) than touchdown runs (one). He’s got two games over 100 yards and two games under 50. Deji Karim seems to have the coaches’ confidence and can lighten some of MJD's load to ensure he’s as healthy as possible late in the season.
Developing well: Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu are developing into a top-flight interior defensive line tandem. Knighton is remarkably quick for a gigantic man and is a handful for multiple blockers. Alualu penetrates well and is getting better week to week. We’ll mention outside linebacker Justin Durant here, too. He’s played great since returning from an ankle injury.
About those blackouts: Turn your attention to San Diego and Oakland, please. The Jaguars have played four home games and they’ve been on local TV four times. They have issues, but drawing enough people to ensure they’re seen on TV has not been one of them to this point.
What’s to come: Out of the bye, the Jags have home games against Houston and Cleveland. They need good results there, because trips to the Giants and Titans follow.