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Jaguars cling to hope from last season


They are ranked last in the AFC in first downs and in third-down conversions, and second-worst in the league in time of possession.

What in the world has happened to the Jaguars offense?

"There aren't many offensive plays in the game. There aren't many first downs. The whole offensive unit has got to do better," coach Tom Coughlin said, offering more in the way of results than reasons.

Most believe the problem begins up front, on the offensive line, where the Jaguars have lost star offensive tackle Tony Boselli for the season. Confidence in the line's ability to hold its own against the defense has eroded to the point that Coughlin is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the balance between run and pass that he considers critical to any offense's success.

Through five games, the Jaguars have attempted 42 more passes than runs, play-calling that is a by-product of the week-two groin injury that has caused star running back Fred Taylor to miss three-and-a-half games.

"The offense is my responsibility, it's not his," Coughlin said when asked about rookie offensive coordinator Bob Petrino's play-calling.

Meanwhile, fans scream for the Jaguars to turn even more decidedly to their passing attack, even though quarterback Mark Brunell has been sacked seven times in the last two games and will face a Baltimore Ravens pass-rush this Sunday that is downright frightening.

"I'm not sure what that is, an attacking style of offense," Brunell said in response to a question about a more aggressive game plan on offense.

"You can never get away from the running game because of the force of their front in the way they come after (the quarterback)," Coughlin said of the Ravens' pass-rush.

The fact of the matter is that, since Taylor's departure, opposing defenses have almost disregarded the Jaguars' rushing attack. Buffalo was the most recent to do so.

"There's more people back there. Most of the time, it's a three-man rush and eight drop (into pass-coverage). There are a lot of people back there. You can't go deep," wide receiver Keenan McCardell said of the opponents' defensive strategy.

Baltimore is not that kind of defense. The Ravens love to attack the line of scrimmage and the quarterback, facts that are undoubtedly weighing heavily on Brunell's mind this week.

However, the Ravens' attack ways could help open up the passing lanes for the Jaguars. It is the Jags' lone hope this week; that the Ravens' arrogance will allow the Jaguars what they haven't enjoyed since Taylor left the lineup. The Jaguars desperately want to begin seeing single coverage; they need that to have any chance to win Sunday.

"To look at what our team statistics are right now, it's very surprising," Brunell said.

Baltimore isn't where you go to "get well" statistically, but the Jaguars can't help but cling to the memory of the 36 points they posted in a last-minute loss in Baltimore last season. In that week-two game, the Ravens attacked the line of scrimmage and left their defensive backs in single coverage.

It is where this team's head is this week. It clings to a singular hope and a painful memory.

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