A Quick Look at Week 4: Jacksonville Jaguars
And they're increasingly becoming a distant memory.
The Jaguars, after opening the regular season with a solid 24-17 victory over the Denver Broncos, have lost their last two games by a cumulative 66-16 score, losing at San Diego 38-13 and at home to Philadelphia, 28-3.
Two consecutive 25-point losses has led to the expected fallout.
David Garrard, the Jaguars' starting quarterback, has had back-to-back difficult games, throwing four interceptions at San Diego and throwing for just 105 yards this past week in a game in which he threw several more passes that were nearly intercepted. With Garrard ineffective throwing downfield, the Jaguars' running game, a cornerstone of the franchise the last several seasons – has been relatively ineffective, with Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew without a touchdown after three games for the first time in his career.
With Garrard struggling, and with backup Luke McCown out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Jaguars on Tuesday claimed former Bills quarterback Trent Edwards off waivers.
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio is hearing criticism and rumblings about job security, and Florida Times-Union columnist Gene Frenette wrote this week that even Owner Wayne Weaver, who helped bring the team to Jacksonville as an expansion franchise in 1995, deserve a large share of the blame.
Making things more unpleasant for Jacksonville: this week's opponent, the Indianapolis Colts. Indianapolis long has been the team to which the entire AFC South looked up in the division standings, and when the Jaguars were competitive early in this decade, the Colts were the team by which the Jaguars often measured themselves. And while the Jaguars never have finished ahead of the Colts in the division, there were seasons – 2004 and 2007, particularly – when they seemed to be close. Very, very close.
Right now, few observers would argue that Jacksonville seemed close to being a contending team. Looks often are deceiving in the NFL, and there are plenty of cases on record in which teams that had a tough game or two early have turned in solid, even spectacular seasons.
The Jaguars don't look like that sort of team now. A victory this week would go a long way toward changing that perception.
The opponent: home against Indianapolis (2-1).
The trend: The Jaguars, after a confidence-building victory over the Broncos in Week 1, have looked miserable the last two weeks, never contending after the second half in losses to San Diego and Philadelphia.
Recent history: The Jaguars beat the Colts in Week 3 of 2008, and while they usually play Indianapolis tough, they have since lost three consecutive games to their AFC South rivals. The Jaguars' 44-17 victory in 2006 in which they rushed for 375 yards often is cited as an example of how Jacksonville plays the Colts tough, but that game took place nearly four years ago. Since then, the Colts have won five of six, with Jacksonville's lone victory coming when Colts quarterback Peyton manning was recovering from off-season knee surgery in early 2008.
Key question: Can Garrard turn his season around? Garrard threw three touchdown passes with no interceptions in the season-opening victory over Denver. Since then, he has thrown five interceptions and one touchdown with the touchdown coming after he re-entered a loss at San Diego because McCown had sustained a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear. "I did not foresee the struggles we've had the last couple of weeks," Del Rio said. There are those in Jacksonville who believe McCown's injury is the one thing preventing a major quarterback controversy, but whatever the belief on that front, Garrard's job seemed safe until the acquisition of Edwards. As long as he's our best option, we'll continue to go with him," Del Rio said of Garrard Monday. The Jaguars' acquisition of Edwards Tuesday doesn't automatically mean there will be a quarterback change, but it does give Jacksonville an option.
Pressing issue: There are more pressing issues than can be covered in a brief paragraph, but a major problem for the Jaguars thus far this season is the continued trend of allowing big passing plays. Jacksonville spent the offseason focused on improving the pass rush, and the Jaguars have pressured opposing quarterbacks on occasions, but in the loss to the Eagles Sunday, the secondary struggled. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick completed touchdown passes of 61 yards to DeSean Jackson and 45 yards to Jeremy Maclin and had another 42-yarder to Jackson. "We continue to be plagued by big plays over the top," Del Rio said after the Eagles loss.