Jaguars Pass Rush: Stop the Meandering!
To be accurate, I would say it’s more of a pass meander.
Contribute the problems to whatever you like, but being tied for last in the league with four sacks is not something to be proud of, Jacksonville.
Now, I understand the simplicity of the formula: players make plays, and if the team doesn’t have the right players then no one makes the plays.
However, this so-called pass rush is pathetic to watch.
It reminds me of shopping with a girlfriend. She wants to try on everything twice, caress the fabric and compare prices.
On the other hand, most men I know shop only when absolutely necessary. Unless stains and/or sweat marks have ravaged a piece of clothing, shopping is avoidable.
“The game’s on, sweetheart.”
“Honey, I’ll turn it inside out.”
When shopping, men have a game plan.
They lock on, purchase and depart.
It’s goal-oriented. No pleasure. Just results.
From what I’ve seen in five games, the Jaguars’ pass meander has been the slow shopper who is never in any rush.
The pass meander needs to turn into the speedy, get-in, get-out shopper.
Does head coach Jack Del Rio have to announce a Halloween shopping sale for some spice to occur?
Over the years, I have seen and read of incredible feats of strength at the Filene’s Basement Running of the Brides. It’s very goal-oriented with no meandering.
Maybe the defensive ends should book tickets to a trip to Boston in February for some pass-rush training.
With or without discounted wedding dresses, the Jaguars’ pass meander could transform into a true rush.
So far this season only one defensive end has a sack for this club. And that’s Reggie Hayward, who is out for the year with a broken left leg.
The other three sacks can be attributed to linebacker Clint Ingram and defensive tackles Derek Landri and Montavious Stanley.
Whether you think I’m a negative Nancy or not, the fact is there needs to be more sacks!
Since Del Rio’s first season in 2003, Jacksonville has averaged a little more than two sacks per game – 2.11 if you’d like to be precise.
Out of the 213 total sacks recorded by defensive players in the last six and a quarter seasons, 79 of those were by defensive ends.
The rest of the sacks, whether they were coverage or bone-rattling blindsides, were from cornerbacks, linebackers and defensive tackles.
So, from a sheer numbers standpoint, the current defensive ends aren’t filling the void of Bobby McCray, Reggie Hayward and Paul Spicer.
From 2005 to 2007, the three seasons the formidable trio played together, they chalked up 48.5 sacks.
That’s quite impressive considering Hayward missed 15 games in 2006 due to a torn Achilles tendon.
But, with the rate the sacks are coming this year, Jacksonville is on track for its lowest sack total of the Del Rio era.
The lowest under Del Rio was his first year in 2003 when the team only had 24 sacks.
That year, defensive end Tony Brackens, in his final season, led the way with six quarterback sacks.
And, with the words ‘rebuilding’ and ‘young’ hovering over the Jaguars, more time needs to be granted to second-year pass rushers Quentin Groves, Derrick Harvey, Bryan Smith and rookie Julius Williams.
Their average age hasn’t even hit 24 yet, which is too young to evaluate whether the high picks in Groves and Harvey are “busts.”
So, until the defensive ends gain more game experience, I expect the linebackers – whom I consider the best group of players on the team – will be the sack masters.
Once linebacker Justin Durant is fully healed from his hip injury, the sacks will begin to accumulate.
For fans, the key is to have patience and hope that the pass rush will improve as the 2009 season progresses.
And, fans should understand that through the tough losses to Indianapolis, Arizona and Seattle, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.
The defensive ends will become more and more experienced, and maybe reproduce the once-triumvirate of McCray, Hayward and Spicer.
The day will come when the ball is hiked and the Jaguars’ defensive ends get to the quarterback like brides to a wedding dress.
The setting will not be Filene’s Basement, but the gridiron. And, that wedding dress will be the opposing quarterback’s sweat-drenched jersey.
The meander will have turned into a strategic and well-orchestrated rush.
Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio. He can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville at 5:45 p.m. every Wednesday with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show.
Richard also contributes to Inside the Game with Robin Valetutto every Saturday from 12-2 p.m. Currently, he's writing David Lamm’s biography, Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010.
You can e-mail Richard at Richard.Miller@jaxobserver.com.