The Jaguars defense would like to have another opportunity to make the big stop with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter. They'd like to have that chance this Monday night, which means it would come against a no less-formidable foe than Brett Favre, arguably the best crunch-time quarterback in the game.
Four times the Jaguars defense has lost leads late in the game this season. In a fifth loss, they allowed Buffalo to drive for the game-winning field goal when the game was tied.
The frustration of those collapses has left players to join fans in questioning defensive coordinator Gary Moeller's late-game, protect-a-lead scheme: zone pass-defense behind a three-man rush.
Criticism peaked this week, following a collapse against Baltimore this past Sunday that allowed the Ravens to drive 74 yards in nine plays for the game-winning touchdown, after the Jaguars had taken a 21-17 lead with 1:32 to play. Cornerback Aaron Beasley joined defensive tackle Gary Walker in criticizing the scheme. Cornerback Fernando Bryant made his opinion known way back in training camp. He has since softened his comments, but not his belief the Jaguars would benefit from a more aggressive scheme.
"You give yourself to the team. It's not about what the individual wants. It's no secret how I feel, but I'm going to play it to the best of my ability," Bryant said, referring to Moeller's use of zone pass-defense.
Bryant was selected in the first round of the 1999 draft as an exclusive cover-cornerback. Then, Dom Capers was the Jaguars' new defensive coordinator, and Capers was installing his attack-style, zone-blitz scheme. Bryant made it clear man-to-man pass-coverage was his game, but it is not Moeller's. Why? Is it because Moeller knows the Jaguars don't possess the talent to be a man-to-man team?
Coughlin remained supportive of Moeller this week, but the head coach said he regretted having used the scheme the Jaguars did in the Ravens' game-winning drive.
Is the scheme wrong? The answer would seem to be, yes, for no other reason than it's not working.
"Obviously, it's not working for our team. Maybe we don't have the right players," Bryant said.
"I think it's a little bit of both," safety Donovin Darius said. "I'm not going to point fingers. Coach understands what's going on. Collectively, it's all our fault."