Stopping the Quarterback – It’s a Commitment
Three words that seem so simple yet can be such a difficult task to accomplish.
“Stop the quarterback” is nearly the “I love you” of football.
One can say it and mean it, but it takes practice and hard work.
It’s a commitment.
This season, I’m sure fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars feel like “I love you” is more in the ballpark of “Let’s just be friends.”
For the most part, Jacksonville hasn’t stopped opposing quarterbacks. At this point, the Jaguars would be pleased with merely containing the field general.
I’m waiting for the evening when I’m watching Jeopardy and Alex Trebek says, “OK, NFL teams for $400 – This NFL squad nearly guarantees an opponent’s quarterback to go untouched, be as on target as a sharpshooter and throw at least one touchdown per game.”
Trebek waits no more than two seconds as a contestant confidently states: “What is the Jacksonville Jaguars?”
The question is broad, but Jacksonville has a better likelihood of lifting a television blackout than containing a quarterback.
Trebek knows it, and you and I know it.
Through seven games, the Jaguars have faced three below average quarterbacks in Tennessee Titans Kerry Collins and Vince Young and St. Louis Ram Marc Bulger.
The three quarterbacks combined for an average completion percentage of 69.47, 207.3 yards passing and a passer rating of 86.83.
That’s comparable to Washington Redskin Jason Campbell in the pocket for those three games, which resulted in two of the Jaguars’ wins.
Campbell is, at best, a middle of the pack NFL quarterback.
Campbell is comparable to drinking milk in the middle of a marathon. He just doesn’t settle well.
However, with regard to three of Jacksonville’s four losses, the three quarterbacks, who are all above average, had absolute field days.
The Jaguars might as well have given them a Snuggie and sweet iced tea as they sat back in the pocket.
The three winning quarterbacks – Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner and Matt Hasselbeck – were sacked only twice, completed 75.3% of their passes and casually tossed seven touchdowns (compared to one interception).
“Would you care for more ice or lemon for your beverage, Mr. Manning?”
“Can we fluff your neck pillow as well?”
But, to be fair, Manning has the best completion percentage (71.1) in the league. He also leads the NFL in passing yards per game with 318.1.
And, the long-time Indianapolis Colt has all but booked his flight to Canton, Ohio.
For Warner, Hall of Fame accolades are also a definite possibility. In addition to a possible bronze bust, he is currently the leader in pass attempts per game (40.4).
During the Jaguars’ September 20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, it was Warner’s completion percentage of 92.3 and not his attempts – 26 – that crushed Jacksonville.
It’s why Matt Leinart entered the fourth quarter in place of the 38-year-old Warner.
If you deem it necessary, call it a mercy rule in the Jaguars’ 31-17 loss.
As for Hasselbeck, he’s the Jaguar killer who ranks near the bottom in most significant quarterback statistics.
But, returning from a rib injury, Hasselbeck looked All-World during the Seahawks’ 41-0 thrashing of Jacksonville.
“Care for another Starbucks iced peppermint mocha, Mr. Hasselbeck?”
I believe he went with the Venti size.
With nine games remaining, Jacksonville is set to play against three top-tier quarterbacks – Manning, Matt Schaub (again) and Tom Brady.
Clearly, the Jaguars’ defense has tendencies to make a league bottom feeder look like an All-Pro.
So, on that front, shutting down Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez, Trent Edwards, Alex Smith, Chad Henne or Derek Anderson could be the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest for Jacksonville.
As the season progresses, opposing quarterbacks will be stopped more frequently.
Following more Sunday dates, the practice and hard work will become more evident.
On Sunday, Kansas City Chief Matt Cassel shouldn’t expect roses and chocolates.
A handshake or high-five is the best Cassel will get from the Jaguars’ defense.
Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio. Additionally, he can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show.
Richard contributes to Inside the Game with Robin Valetutto every Saturday from 12-2 p.m.
Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010.
You can e-mail Richard at Richard.Miller@jaxobserver.com