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Tag:Jacksonville Jaguars
Posted on: November 22, 2011 10:00 am
 

Coach Killers, Week 11: Johnson returns to form

Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat.

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Mark Sanchez, Jets

It's been five days since Tim Tebow led the Broncos on a 95-yard game-winning drive against the Jets. The other, perhaps more important storylines to come out of that game: Von Miller is scary, Denver's defense is improving, and Mark Sanchez was the worst quarterback on the field last Thursday.

That's not hyperbole. Sanchez looks the part and has the pedigree but nearly three years into his NFL career and he's a replacement-level quarterback. That would be one thing if he were, say, a former seventh-round pick like Ryan Fitzpatrick (pre-shiny new deal, obviously). It's a different story altogether given that the Jets traded up from No. 17 to No. 5 to take Sanchez in the 2009 NFL Draft.

When New York's defense is one of the best in the league and the running game is working, Sanchez has been good. But that's sort of the point: you don't draft a franchise quarterback to man the controls when everything is going well. You draft a franchise quarterback to win those games that you were previously losing. The Jets are 5-5 and a big part of that is because of Sanchez.

Late in the third quarter of the Broncos game, with the Jets leading 10-3 and facing a third and short, Sanchez threw a pick-six. It wasn't a tipped pass, or a 50-yard bomb that was effectively a third-down punt. It was a jerk route to Plaxico Burress. Typically, the joke is that the defender in coverage ends up looking like a jerk on such plays.

Not this time. Sanchez's throw was off target, Burress didn't come back to the ball, and cornerback Andre Goodman jumped the route. Twenty-six yards later, the score was 10-10. And then Tebow happened.


Mark Sanchez has thrown three pick-sixes this season.

Head coach Rex Ryan defended Sanchez (Because, really, what's he going to say? "I'm happy to announce that Mark Brunell, 52 years young, will now lead us to the playoffs!")

"This is our quarterback," Ryan said at his Friday press conference. "He’s going to be our quarterback for as long as I’m here, which I hope is a long, long time. He can make all the throws. He’s a competitive guy. Has it been perfect? No, absolutely. But it hasn’t been perfect for our entire team."

But Rex, what about the children!?

Graham Gano, DeAngelo Hall - Redskins

It may seem unfair to blame Gano for the Redskins' latest loss, but let's be honest: he's the team's best offensive player. (And, hell, he might even be the team's best quarterback. We haven't seen him throw but we have seen the Rex and Becks show. It can't be worse than that.) If Washington is going to win, Gano will have to make everything, including the out-of-zip-code attempts. Instead, he missed two field goals Sunday against the Cowboys, the first from 49 yards, the last from 52. And it was that last miss in overtime that allowed Dallas to march down the field for a game-winning kick of their own.

Now, for your unintentional comedy interlude, courtesy of Redskins' Radio Network (featuring Larry Michael, Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff and by way of DC Sports Bog)…
The missed Gano field goal

Larry: We are ready, this is it, from 52 yards out. The kick is on the way, he’s got the distance, and heeeeeeeee…
Sam: He’s got it!
Larry: He missed it! He missed it wide right!
Sam: He missed it?
Larry: He missed it wide right, so the Cowboys will take over.
Sam: I thought it went through?
Larry: Wide right.
We've been saying for several weeks that there's a decent chance the Redskins lose out. They're now 3-7 and six weeks closer to that reality. Silver lining: players are taking responsibility. In fact, cornerback DeAngelo Hall thinks he should be cut. We won't disagree with him.

“It’s frustrating, but I can’t point a finger at anybody but myself,” Hall said, via the Washington Times. “The way I’m playing right now, they need to go cut me because I’m definitely not worth what I’m getting. It’s frustrating. Hopefully they see something in me and they bring me back next year, but the way things are going right now, I’m definitely not playing up to par.”

Could the Redskins really lose out?

We know Hall wasn't responsible for a wide-open Jason Witten sprinting to the end zone on a 59-yard reception midway through the fourth quarter. But Hall didn't exactly track Witten down, either. For a former "NFL's Fastest Man" champion, he sure looked slow (but not quite as slow as the time Hines Ward, wearing one shoe, outran him to the end zone).

One last thing: former NFL quarterback turned handball aficionado Jake Plummer spoke recently about playing for Mike Shanahan. The two were together in Denver from 2003-2006 until Plummer retired after it became clear that Jay Cutler would be the starter.

“It just seemed like every game I could have completed these four more passes or these five more shots here and it would have been perfect," Plummer said, via Yahoo.com. "And that just wasn’t my personality....But Shanahan wanted perfection and he wore a lot of us down there.”

We're guessing Shanahan would do just about anything to have such problems now. To Plummer's credit, he didn't take pleasure in Shanahan's current predicament (at least not publicly).

“Yeah and you know what, I don’t like to see that,” he said. “I mean I don’t want to see anybody struggle. And I’m not sitting here gloating or feeling better about his lack of success down there. As time goes you learn more things. … Hey, I was lucky to get the opportunity to play for Shanahan. He helped turn my career around and gave me a chance to show that I was a winner, regardless of how things went down."

Chris Johnson, Titans

First, some background: the Lions selected running back Kevin Smith in the the third round of the 2008 draft. After suffering late-season injuries in '09 and '10, the team chose not to re-sign him. He was out of football until two weeks ago when Detroit, in dire need of warm bodies in the backfield, gave him a call. Against the Panthers Sunday, Smith ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and added another 61 receiving yards and a score.

Recapping Week 11

We mention this because after Chris Johnson treaded the Panthers for 130 rushing yards last week, there were some rumblings of him "being back." Turns out, that performance was an aberration and unless the Titans are facing the Panthers every week from here on out, Johnson continues to be one of the worst backs in the league.

Back during training camp, when Johnson was parked on his couch waiting for a new deal, one of the reasons his supporters gave for paying him was that Johnson's presence in the backfield would take pressure off rookie quarterback Jake Locker. Well, Locker saw extensive action against the Falcons and he looked just fine. And he did it without anything resembling a running game.

Maybe the Titans should sign this Kevin Smith.

Which brings us back to CJ. He carried the ball 12 times in Atlanta for a grand total of 13 yards. That works out to a nifty 1.08 yards per carry. Put differently: Matt Hasselbeck, who left the game with an arm injury and probably travels 40 yards in closer to six seconds than five, was the Titans' leading rusher with 17 yards on the afternoon.

(Even more embarrassing, courtesy of colleague Will Brinson's Sorting the Sunday Pile: "There were nine -- NINE! -- quarterbacks with more rushing yards than Johnson in Week 11.")

“I know we didn’t execute some plays that we could have,” Johnson said, via the Tennessean. “They are a pretty good defense, and they made a lot of plays out there. I’m sure if we would have executed better, then we could have had a better day in the running game.”

Or, as we mentioned above, the Titans could just petition the league to face the Panthers every week.

Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars

Let's be honest: Blaine Gabbert Bears very little responsibility for the Jags' 3-7 season. He's a rookie quarterback on one of the NFL's worst offensive teams, and Jack Del Rio is a lame-duck coach who'll likely ring in the new year looking for a new job.

Jacksonville's final drive against the Browns Sunday was a microcosm of their offense and their season. Trailing 14-10 and on the Browns' 2-yard-line with 13 seconds to go, the Jaguars ran the following three plays:

1st and goal: Maurice Jones-Drew 1-yard run (eight seconds remaining).
2nd and goal: Gabbert throws incomplete to Jason Hill (three seconds remaining).
3rd and goal: Gabbert throws incomplete to Mike Thomas (game over, thanks for coming).

So that happened. When Del Rio was asked after the game why he didn't get the ball to the Jags' best playmaker, MJD, this happened:

“Our offensive coordinator [Dirk Koetter] calls the plays. I can’t speak to his thinking. You’ll have to get with him,” he said via the Florida Times-Union.

Translation: "I checked out of this job in September and I'm just going through the motions until I'm officially canned. I almost forgot we had a game Sunday."

What makes Del Rio's comment even more bizarre: Jacksonville called timeout with eight seconds left. Presumably, he had some say in the final-play strategy.

“We certainly talked about those things through the course of the drive. We got down and took our crack. You can make a case for doing that. You can guess any number of plays when you don’t connect. [It’s] a missed opportunity,” Del Rio said.

As PFT.com's Gregg Rosenthal noted Monday: "Mike Tomlin, Bill Belichick and Mike Smith would all be involved in a call like that. They are defensive coaches, but they make big decisions on offense. It’s their team."

You know what else those three coaches have in common? They ain't getting fired in two months.

Philip Rivers, Chargers

There is very little to be excited about in San Diego but there is this: Philip Rivers has played much better the last two weeks. Moral victories are for losers, but … well, the Chargers are exactly that. Unfortunately, "Not Bad" Rivers in 2011 isn't a top-5 quarterback. In fact, he might crack the top-15. But unless he can play defense, special teams and coach, San Diego's five-game slide isn't entirely on him. That said, he leads the league in interceptions, and he threw two more Sunday -- both in the fourth quarter, both in critical situations.

The first pick was another miscommunication with Vincent Jackson in the end zone (it happened in Week 10 against the Raiders). The second was inexplicably bad. Rivers, flushed from the pocket, went to throw the ball away. Somehow instead of, you know, throwing the ball away, the pass sailed right into the arms of Bears defensive back Corey Graham.


The 2011 Chargers: where not even incompletions are routine

When you're incapable of throwing an incompletion, it portends bad things for the season.

After a 4-1 start, the Chargers are now 4-6. Next up: the 5-5 Tebows are coming to town and Rivers is reduced to saying things like this:

“We’ve got to find a way to think that we have a one-game season against Denver at our place,” he said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “And let’s find a way to win that game.”

There are six games left in the 2011 season and barring a miraculous turnaround and a ton of luck, San Diego will miss the postseason. And that, according to the Union-Tribune's Kevin Acee, could mean curtains for Norv Turner.

"At this point, it is apparent only a drastic turnaround will save Turner, as the Chargers have lost five straight and are in last place in the AFC West, in grave danger of missing the playoffs for a second straight season. [Team owner Dean] Spanos also has wondered about repeated game management decisions, and after five years it is possible Turner has been given enough time to get done what no Chargers coach ever has – win a Super Bowl."

Maybe Rex Ryan was onto something.

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Posted on: November 21, 2011 2:33 pm
 

Del Rio 'can't speak' to O-coordinator's thinking

Del RioPosted by Josh Katzowitz

While Tony Sparano seems to have cooled down his hot seat just a bit -- a three-game Dolphins winning streak certainly has helped his cause -- Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio isn’t doing himself any favors.

After cutting David Garrard in the preseason and giving the starting quarterback spot to rookie Blaine Gabbert -- who, statistically speaking, is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league -- the Jaguars are 3-7 after their 14-10 loss to the Browns on Sunday.

When asked why Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t get the ball on the final play of the game from the Browns 2-yard line, Del Rio deflected the blame to offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

“Our offensive coordinator calls the plays,” Del Rio said, via the Florida Times-Union. “I can’t speak to his thinking. You’ll have to get with him.”

“We certainly talked about those things through the course of the drive. We got down and took our crack. You can make a case for doing that. You can guess any number of plays when you don’t connect. [It’s] a missed opportunity.”

The final minute of the game was a disaster for the Jaguars. After reaching the 5-yard line on a third and one with 45 seconds to play in the game, Jones-Drew gained three yards for the first down. The Jaguars didn’t call timeout there and let 28 seconds run off the clock (that also must have been Koetter’s fault), and after Jones-Drew failed to reach end zone on first and goal, they stopped the clock with 8 seconds left.

Gabbert missed on a fade pass for Jason Hill, and with three seconds to play, Gabbert never looked at Jones-Drew, who was open in the flat, and threw behind Mike Thomas for the incompletion. Game over.

Koetter, you may defend yourself.

“Three of the four plays were our two-point plays -- two passes and one run, so in those last four plays, we gave it to Maurice twice and we had one play action and we had a little option play to Mike Thomas,” he said. “I like all four of those plays.”

That’s fine, but for Del Rio to claim he had nothing to do with the play-call is absurd. Sure, Koetter probably was the one to call the play, but unless Del Rio wasn’t wearing his headset, he knew what had been called. He could have intervened -- he is, after all, still the head coach -- and vetoed the decision. But he didn’t. Instead he let Koetter take the fall.

“We are on the 2-yard line and I have to find a way for us to score,’’ Gabbert said. “That’s on me. I have to learn from that and get better.’’

Now, if only Del Rio could learn from Gabbert in how to share in the blame.

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 5:32 pm
 

Jeff Saturday holds 'stern' players-only meeting

Posted by Will Brinson

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the 0-9 Colts are the worst team in football. They've been outscored 120-24 over their past three games and the only thing Indy fans have left to cheer for is the possibility of landing Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck in the upcoming draft.

But that doesn't mean the Colts are giving up on 2011 just yet. In fact, in advance of their Week 10 matchup against Jacksonville, center Jeff Saturday held a players-only meeting this week, in which he delivered a "stern" message about the team continuing to give it their all this season.

"I felt like it needed to be said and I said it," Saturday said, via Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star. "I don't want to go into the details of it."

However, rookie tackle Anthony Castonzo provided a little insight into what was said, or, at least, the tone of what was said.

"It was really stern," Castonzo said. "It was like, 'Listen, we're not joking around. We're 0-9 right now.' "

That doesn't mean Saturday was pounding his fist on a table or, um, jumping off a turnbuckle or anything. He just probably delivered the message in a similar way to how he handled lockout updates during the offseason.

"He didn't have to yell. He didn't have to scream," Reggie Wayne said, per The Star. "He didn't have to be 'Macho Man' Randy Savage. He was Jeff Saturday. That's how we took it."


Saturday said that he acquired coach Jim Caldwell's consent to hold the meeting, and it's kind of surprising that Caldwell hasn't used the respected veteran to try and push the players before. (Or not surprising, depending on how you view Caldwell, I guess.)

This Colts team has seven games left in the season to avoid the ignominy of going winless, and just two of the games can really be considered "winnable" -- this weeks' matchup against Jacksonville and Week 17's matchup against ... Jacksonville.

That's not to insult the Jaguars, but they're pretty clearly the worst team on the rest of the Colts schedule. Plus, while Jacksonville's defense is impressive this year, their offense is arguably the worst in the NFL (just behind the Colts!), and if Indy's going to stop anyone from scoring 20-plus points in a game this year, you've gotta think their best chance is against the Jags.

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:03 am
 

Is Gabbert playing worse than Tebow?

GabbertPosted by Josh Katzowitz

If you were asked which team currently employed the worst starting quarterback in the league, it’d be an easy answer. Tim Tebow, right? Not even close, yes?

Well, no, not exactly.

As ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky reports, on passes that travel less than 10 yards in the air, Jaguars rookie Blaine Gabbert has a 50 percent completion rate, and his passer rating of 60.9 is the worst in the league.

Even worse than Tebow? Yes, apparently.

The article in question wasn’t a comparison between Gabbert and Tebow, but Kuharsky gives an interesting answer regarding the question of why the Jaguars shouldn’t get away from their running game and give Gabbert a chance to show what he can accomplish if he’s throwing down the field. That’s because, according to Kuharsky’s stats, Gabbert is 10 for 10 on screen passes with a quarterback rating of 105. His long-distance passing is somewhat less than that.

And even though running back Maurice Jones-Drew hasn’t been as effective as a pass-catcher this year, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to believe that Gabbert suddenly would become a rookie of the year contender if he began heaving throws down the field, especially considering his top two receivers are Mike Thomas and Jason Hill

But what about Tebow, you ask?

Funny thing, he’s getting more comfortable in the Broncos offense (going 2-1 in your first three starts and having your coach install more of a college-style offense probably doesn’t hurt).

"Our offense is what it is, and we'll continue to run that, but every week we'll continue to game plan new things, just like any team would to try to take advantage of the defense we're going to face," Tebow said, via the Denver Post.
 
So, with Gabbert’s worth falling and Tebow’s worth rising, what can we gather from all this information? Easy, Gabbert is not > Tebow.

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Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:45 am
 

Jaguars accuse Texans of dirty tactics

Some of J. Hill's teammates accused Houston of playing dirty (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In the week leading up to the Texans-Jaguars game, Jacksonville defensive tackle Terrance Knighton let us know how he feels about the Houston franchise.

"I hate Houston; I hate the Texans. That’s probably the team I hate most in the league. I don’t know, they have an arrogance about them I just can’t stand. We watched the bad game last year. I just got angry and I’m ready to go out there and get that bad taste out of my mouth."

Then, the Jaguars went out and got toasted by Houston. But maybe that’s not even the worst part for Knighton, and afterward, he told us exactly why he hates the Texans.

"I still don't like them, and I have no respect for them at all," he said, via the Houston Chronicle. "It was just the dirty stuff they were doing. I don't want to get into specifics; I just don't like them. … I'm not going to get into names or anything like that, but we play them again.”

This is the second time in two weeks that a Houston opponent has accused the Texans of dirty tactics. After the Titans lost 41-7 last week, they echoed some of the same remarks.

“They're some nasty guys," Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "I was on the ground, and some guy stepped on my head. They're very dirty."

It is strange though. Like John McClain wrote in his story, “When the Texans wallowed in mediocrity for years, no one accused them of being a dirty team. Now that they're winning, they're being called cheap-shot artists.



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Posted on: October 29, 2011 9:28 pm
 

Terrance Knighton: not a big Texans fan

T. Knighton is not a fan of Houston (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

When somebody mentions Houston, what do you think about? The Texans, of course. The Astrodome, maybe. All the Tex-Mex you want to eat, perhaps. The Houston Toros of Bad News Bears fame, obviously.

But ask Jaguars tackle Terrance Knighton -- who CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco thinks is kind of a badass -- what he thinks about Houston and … well … wow.

"I hate Houston; I hate the Texans," said Knighton, via the Florida Times Union. "That’s probably the team I hate most in the league. I don’t know, they have an arrogance about them I just can’t stand. We watched the bad game last year. I just got angry and I’m ready to go out there and get that bad taste out of my mouth."

Luckily, Knighton will get his chance Sunday when the Jaguars, coming off that impressive unwatchable win against the Ravens, will travel to Houston to face the Texans on Sunday.

The bad game to which Knighton is referring to was Arian Foster’s 180-yard rushing performance the last time the two teams met. But what really upsets Knighton is the annual prediction that the Texans, finally, will break through and win the division and then never do it (though Houston really should break through and win the division this year).

"Every year they’re the team that’s supposed to overtake the Colts, or be this high-powered offense," Knighton said. "This defense that’s supposed to just shut down everybody. I’m just tired of hearing about it."

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 10:03 am
 

Everyone on Ravens pointing fingers at offense

Posted by Will Brinson

The Ravens looked downright dreadful on the offensive end of things on Monday in their 12-7 loss in Jacksonville. As such, the critics came calling, with many a pundit ripping Joe Flacco and even Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs questioning the playcalling after the game.

Suggs was baffled about the number of touches that Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice received. That number -- eight! -- apparently didn't sit well with head coach Jim Harbaugh, who said he's on the "same page" with Suggs re: touches.

"I listen to all of our guys and definitely I listen to Terrell Suggs, especially with the way he’s playing," Harbaugh said. "And then, the things he says are right. But, that’s what we’re trying to do. It’s not like we’re not trying to do the things he’s talking about doing. So, I think we’re all on the same page with that."

So that's not good news for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Although our own Mike Freeman reported Wednesday morning that Harbaugh isn't happy about the way Suggs criticized Cameron publicly, so perhaps it's Suggs that should be worried.

Indeed, BaltimoreRavens.com reported late Tuesday that Harbaugh and Cameron huddled up and discussed the offensive problems and determined that everyone's at fault.

"It’s warranted for all of us,” Harbaugh said. "I think we all deserve to have fingers pointed at us when the offense plays like that. That’s tough."

Oh, right, and add Flacco to the list of people that deseve blame, according to Cameron.

"That’s part of our deal," Cameron said. "Heat on me, heat on Joe. The coordinators, quarterbacks, we can all do better. It goes with the territory."

Flacco deserves criticism for making bad throws, of course. But it's not Flacco's fault that the offense is plodding through a late-game situation, or that Rice only got eight carries.

Now, there's an argument that the Ravens weren't moving the ball well on the ground -- Rice averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and Ricky Williams picked up just five yards on three carries.

But the problem with that argument is that 12 total carries for your running backs in a game that doesn't feature more than 19 points is simply illogical. 19 total points means that a game's either a defensive bloodbath or a sloppy offensive game. Either way, mistakes and the other team's opportunities can be mitigated by running the ball and looking to run it more effectively.

Cameron could have worn down the Jaguars defense and limited Flacco's mistakes if he'd simply given Rice the ball more, but for some reason, he didn't feel interested in doing so; when the score of a football game is 6-0 at halftime and still takes two hours to play, something has gone amiss in the respective offensive gameplans.

"Eight carries is never going to be a winning formula for Ray Rice," Harbaugh said. "There is no doubt about it."

Indeed it isn't, and Cameron should probably heed Harbaugh's words and perhaps take a look that the coach had on his face during Baltimore's next-to-last drive of the game. Cameron didn't go with a no-huddle offense initially, and melted nearly 1:30 off the clock with three plays that picked up a whopping 23 yards.

After finally letting Flacco put his foot on the peddle, the offense moved the final 60-plus yards in less than two minutes, scoring their first points of the game.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Podcast: Questioning Polian, Ripping the Ravens

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The Jaguars-Ravens Monday night game was so awesome that we decided to bust out the old podcast machine and get to talking about whether or not the Ravens are contenders and if Jack Del Rio can save his job.

Then Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk joins the show to discuss whether or not Bill Polian should be on the hot seat in Indy and where the Lions stand after their second-straight loss.

Finally, we break down Terrell Owens tryout and wonder whether Stephen Ross is trying to "pull a Major League" with the Dolphins.

Just hit the play button below to listen (and did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.


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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com