Coach Del Rio: It’s ‘critical time’ for Jaguars following second straight lopsided lossBy Mark Long, AP
Monday, September 27, 2010
‘Critical time’ for Jags after consecutive routs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Coming off consecutive lopsided losses, coach Jack Del Rio is calling it “a critical time” for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He could probably say the same thing about his tenure in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars (1-2) need to beat six-time defending AFC South champion Indianapolis on Sunday to avoid their worst start since Del Rio’s first season in 2003.
“It’s very important that we get the ship righted right away,” Del Rio said Monday.
That’s no easy task considering Jacksonville has a porous secondary, an inconsistent pass rush and an ineffective quarterback who has seemingly lost confidence.
Here’s the bigger issue: The Jaguars have few options.
They waived defensive back Michael Coe on Monday, a day after he gave up a 61-yard touchdown pass in a 28-3 loss to Philadelphia, and re-signed safety Gerald Alexander. Alexander started 10 games last season, but was released in final roster cuts after struggling in the preseason.
Del Rio also benched starting cornerback Derek Cox the last two games, leaving him on the sideline as Philip Rivers (334 yards and three TDs) and Michael Vick (291 yards and three TDs) picked apart everyone else in the secondary. Could Cox have helped?
“We’re not really concerned with the perception or the look,” Del Rio said. “We’re more concerned with the end result we’re looking for. He’s working hard, and he will at some point help our football team win games. What he has to do right now is control the things that he has control over, which is effort, his energy, his focus. When we as a staff feel like he’s ready to help us win, we’ll play him.”
The Jaguars have no one to turn to behind Garrard, who has thrown five interceptions and been sacked eight times the last two weeks. Backup Luke McCown was placed on injured reserve last week after tearing a knee ligament, leaving 38-year-old journeyman Todd Bouman as the backup.
Jacksonville signed quarterback Keith Null to the practice squad Monday, but it could be weeks before he even learns the playbook.
So the Jaguars are stuck with Garrard, who completed 13 of 30 passes for 105 yards and an interception against the Eagles.
“As long as he’s our best option, we’ll continue to go with him,” Del Rio said.
Del Rio said Garrard may have lost confidence after consecutive poor performances. He threw four interceptions in a 38-13 loss at San Diego and would have had even more turnovers Sunday had Philadelphia not dropped several interceptions. Garrard also botched a pitch to Maurice Jones-Drew.
“I think he wants very badly to win for his teammates, and the last two weeks haven’t gone that way for him,” Del Rio said.
Garrard was under steady pressure much of the game, but Del Rio made it clear that the quarterback needed to do a better job of reading the defense and getting rid of the ball. Nonetheless, the offensive line took the blame for Garrard’s woes.
“We didn’t do a good of protecting him,” guard Justin Smiley said. “It hurts to stand in front of these cameras and say that we didn’t do a good job, but that’s the truth of it. We’re grown men and we’ve got to keep him upright. That’s the only way you can make plays down the field. He’s taking all these hits. How can we expect our leader to lead us if we can’t do that?
“We have big shoulders and we have to shoulder the blame. Talk is cheap. You can’t talk about it and say, ‘Oh, we’ve got 13 games left.’ There has to be a sense of urgency. You have to stop the bleeding. It’s going to be up to us.”
The Jaguars have lost five of the last six games against the Colts (2-1), so how realistic is that they can get things turned around this week?
“Whatever we have to do as a team to pull together — there’s going to be a lot of nay-sayers — we have to do that,” right tackle Eben Britton said. “We have to rely on the guys in this locker room. You can’t look elsewhere. That’s really what it’s all about, making sure every guy in this locker room has each other’s back. We’ve just got to take our medicine from this.”
Del Rio told players they needed to “circle the wagons,” anticipating the attention this week being mostly negative.
“The talking heads are going to discuss who is the Super Bowl winner right now and who’s the team whose coach and quarterback are gonna get canned,” Del Rio said. “It’s a week-to-week business. It’s all great for ratings and it’s all great for the popularity of the game. But for this football team, we can’t get caught up in the hype when it’s good or the beatdown when it’s bad.
“We’ve got to stay focused on what we’re doing and got to continue to prepare.”
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