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Defense didn't do its part


SAN DIEGO -- Blame the quarterback. In the modern game, it's  always his fault and, certainly, David Garrard deserves a large share of the blame because a quarterback can't ever throw four interceptions, regardless of how they resulted, and expect his team to win.

All right, blame has been sufficiently assigned. Now, what about that defense? How do we ignore 477 yards of offense? How do we forgive 151 yards of rushing, especially when 82 yards of that total was pounded out by a third-year undrafted running back from that football factory Coastal Carolina?

Yeah, what about Michael Tolbert, 5-9, 243 pounds of straight-line power? Folks, that wasn't exactly a sleek, hard-body running back that slashed through the Jaguars on Sunday. That was a slab of beef with a little roll around his waist that dropped his pads on the Jags defense.

The last time the Jaguars played in San Diego, in 2004, LaDainian Tomlinson did a number on Marcus Stroud, John Henderson and company. Hey, that was L.T., baby. Tolbert's not L.T. You know what I mean?

Garrard is going to get skewered by Jaguars fans and media this week. That's why they pay him the big bucks. What about the defense? Doesn't it deserve to share in the blame?

There were two critical series in Sunday's game: the one that began the game and the one that ended the first half. In both Chargers possessions, the Jaguars defense allowed yardage too freely.

The Chargers' first four plays of the game gained six, 14, 15 and 34 yards. The Jaguars defense got caught flat-footed and it sent a high-tempo tone for the game that neither the defense nor Garrard could reverse.

"There's no doubt, I wish we could've started faster. The feeling this week is make sure we get off on third down," defensive end Aaron Kampman said. "I think it was a snowball effect. There was just a lot of adversity in that game and we didn't have enough to overcome it."

Be that as it may, there was a point in Sunday's game that the defense could've delivered a blow. It could've reversed the trend had it gotten a stop late in the first half, with the Chargers backed up at their 13 with 1:50 to play and leading by a scant 14-6. It was scant only because they should've been leading by much more.

This was a chance for the defense to force a punt and give its offense good field position and a chance to at least cut the deficit to 14-9 at halftime. It would've given the Jaguars a major lift heading into the second half.

So what happened? Rivers immediately completed a pass to Darren Sproles that gained 43 yards. Methodically, the Chargers marched down the field until Rivers capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to tight end Antonio Gates. The Chargers had gone 87 yards in eight plays. The game was over.

"They're a very opportunistic team," middle linebacker Kirk Morrison said. Morrison knows the Chargers well from his days of losing to them with the Raiders.

"It kind of snowballs," he said.

Yes it did.

The Jaguars defense is struggling; there's no other way to say it. The safety positions have had so many combinations since the start of the preseason that it's difficult to remember them all. If, when camp began, had Jaguars fans been asked who the starters in week two would be, it's unlikely anyone would've replied, "Sean Considine and Courtney Greene."

They were the starters.

What about cornerback? Would anybody have guessed that Rashean Mathis and David Jones would be the starting corners in week two? Certainly not, mostly because Jones was playing for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Derek Cox's confidence has fallen to the point that he was deactivated for Sunday's game. In just the second year of his career, last year's leading interceptor for the Jaguars is facing a career crisis.

"I felt he needed to take a step back and remember what he means to us; take a deep breath," Del Rio said of his decision to bench Cox.

The defense in general needs to do the same. Following Sunday's performance, the defense needs to take a step back and remember what it means to the team. Yeah, it's tough to win when your quarterback plays poorly, but at least one team in the league is 2-0 without having gotten much of any contribution from its quarterback. It can be done.

"We're a much better team than we showed today," Morison said.

"The tendency is to pull apart. You continue to pull together. You look objectively at the film and you say this is where the breakdown was and you own up to it," Kampman added.

Yes, there were breakdowns.

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