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Jags need running game to return


The last time they played the Colts, the Jaguars were in a rush of offense that would produce a 100-yard rusher in five consecutive games. Then, suddenly, it stopped, and it has yet to return.

What has happened to the Jaguars' running game? What has caused what was the league's second-ranked rush-offense to fall on such hard times that it has slumped to 28th in the league through two weeks of this season?

"Ask Pittsburgh. I guess they gave them the blueprint on how to stop the run," Fred Taylor said on Thursday.

It was in Pittsburgh, on a cold night in January that would produce the Jaguars' first playoff win in eight years, that the Jaguars' running game would go dormant. The Steelers held Taylor and running mate Maurice Jones-Drew to a combined 77 yards rushing that night.

A week later, the Patriots held Taylor and Jones-Drew to 66 yards rushing, and the trend has continued into this season. In Tennessee on opening day, Taylor and Jones-Drew combined for a mere 31 yards and this past Sunday, against the Bills, the duo produced just 76 yards rushing. Worse yet, it marked the first time in four years the Jaguars were held to fewer than 100 yards rushing in consecutive games.

What is it going to take to change this trend?

"Make big plays; crease 'em," Taylor said. "The beauty of putting five guys up front is that it only takes one guy to be undisciplined. We haven't made any big plays yet. That'll back 'em up."

Loading the box against the Jaguars has gotten to the point that opponents are using five down linemen, as the Bills did on Sunday when they had middle linebacker Paul Posluszny step forward before the ball was snapped and assume a down lineman's position.

The Jaguars are facing a game this Sunday in Indianapolis that is begging for a return of the running game. To that end, Jones-Drew went public to "beg" for more carries this week, a request with which coach Jack Del Rio agrees.

Will this be the Jaguars running game's break-out game? The Colts have the league's 28th-ranked rush-defense and they will be without their best player, hard-hitting safety Bob Sanders.

"I expect this to be a game we go out and play our butts off and try to go out and get a win. We need a win," Taylor said when asked if this will be a run-the-ball game.

The Colts will load up against the run. That's their style. Meanwhile, their pass-defenders play deep and attempt to keep everything in front of them.

"They fly around. They play zone and want you to check it down and then come up and disrupt," Taylor said.

The onus would seem to fall on quarterback David Garrard and his receivers to complete some passes and back the Colts away from the line of scrimmage.

"We definitely have to get some yards after the catch, and that's up to me to put the ball in better places for them. We have the receivers to do that," Garrard said.

When the Jaguars' opponents agree with Garrard on that point, it's likely the Jaguars' rushing yards will begin to increase.

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