The Jaguars' failures in the passing game on Sunday were the hot topic of coach Jack Del Rio's press conference on Monday, and Del Rio acknowledged that failures in three phases "caused our passing game to not be near where it needs to be.
"Offensively, we just have to get our passing game going. It was inept yesterday. It's clearly lagging," Del Rio said.
The situation was so bad in Sunday's 23-10 loss in Chicago that quarterback David Garrard had a passer rating of 0.0 with nine seconds to play in the first half and had yet to complete a pass to a receiver other than running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Making matters worse was that the Bears went into the game as the NFL's 29th-ranked pass-defense.
"They load up the box and give you opportunities in the passing game. There were opportunities. I don't think the weather was a factor," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars offense has slumped to the point that the team has scored 20 or more points in only five of 13 games this season and only once in the last seven games, of which the Jaguars have lost six times. In 2007, the Jaguars scored 20 or more points in 12 games, including a franchise-record 10 straight games having scored 24 or more points.
"It's problematic right now," said Del Rio, who spread the blame among three phases. "It's all intertwined. It's what I'm going to continue to tell you. If your receivers come open but the line doesn't allow protection, or your quarterback doesn't find (the receivers), or your receivers haven't created separation, you're going to have a problem."
Popular belief is the Jaguars' wide receivers lack the speed to create separation, causing the field to shrink. Del Rio rejected that theory.
"I've seen Hines Ward make plays and he's not a track star. I think that can be overdone a little bit. We're just not functioning at a level that gives us a chance as a football team," Del Rio said.
The offensive line and the team's running game earned compliments from their coach, but Del Rio made a point of saying he's expecting a higher level of play from his defense and that involves better recognition of responsibility according to formation.
"Reduction in the number of eye violations," Del Rio said, referring to what his defenders see on the field. "That's a must. That's going to continue to be a battle cry of mine.
"We've played better defense. I know there's another step for us," Del Rio added.
The next step would be a victory and the Jaguars' next opportunity at that is on Sunday against visiting Green Bay.