Jack Del Rio wasn't about to push the panic button about his offense's inability to score a touchdown, but there was clearly a heightened concern for the state of his team's kicking game.
Missed field goal attempts of 42 and 24 yards by rookie kicker Josh Scobee sabotaged two potential scoring drives by the Jaguars in their 16-5 loss to the Miami Dolphins Saturday night at Pro Player Stadium. The uncertainty of the kicking situation quickly vaulted to the top of the Jaguars' list of concerns.
"We're looking for somebody who can get that done for us. He'll have to do better than that if he's going to be our kicker," Del Rio said of Scobee, whose kickoffs were also disappointingly short.
Scobee, a fifth-round draft choice, will likely get a chance to redeem himself against the Tampa Bay Bucs on Friday night at Alltel Stadium. But it's also likely the Jaguars will search the ranks of available veteran kickers, though they may have to wait until teams begin making cuts before they can find a kicker capable of solving their woes.
"We were trying to trade field goals with them. They made theirs, we missed ours," Del Rio said in a capsule description of Saturday's game.
The Jaguars were last in the league in field goal percentage last season. Scobee is attempting to become the third consecutive rookie placekicker with whom the Jaguars would have begun the regular season. He was preceded by Hayden Epstein in 2002 and Seth Marler in '03.
Scobee cut the Dolphins' lead to 9-5 in the third quarter when he knocked home a 34-yard field goal. It followed a safety that was scored when rookie wide receiver Ernest Wilford blocked a Dolphins punt out of the back of the end zone.
The Jaguars offense obviously struggled to produce points, but Del Rio was not alarmed.
"I thought Byron (Leftwich) was fairly sharp. We had some (dropped passes) that hurt our ability to move the ball and we had some untimely penalties," Del Rio said.
"Win or lose, good start or not good start, we would be back to work on Monday. Certainly I want to score points. It's real clear where we broke down and we'll get it fixed," Del Rio added.
Leftwich played through the first three-and-a-half series of the game. He was replaced in mid-series early in the second quarter, following a replay review that negated a fumble ruling in favor of an incomplete pass.
"We did a lot of good things. We understand it's preseason. You don't game-plan," said Leftwich, who completed four of eight passes for 43 yards and a 66.1 passer rating.
David Garrard quarterbacked the Jaguars through the second and third quarters. He completed seven of 12 pass attempts for 74 yards and a 76.4 passer rating.
Wide receiver Jimmy Smith did not play, the result of a sore back that held him out of practice last week. Del Rio maintained that the back injury is not a significant problem and that Smith would've played had it been a regular season game.
Running back Fred Taylor left the game after his second rushing attempt, a cut-back to the left that went for 42 yards. Clearly, the Jaguars were not the same with Taylor out of the lineup.
Tight end George Wrighster was the Jaguars' leading receiver, making three receptions for 52 yards. First-round pick Reggie Williams made one catch for eight yards.
"Daryl Smith; always around the ball. It was nice to see (Bobby McCray) come around the corner," Del Rio said in complimenting his second and seventh-round draft choices.
Smith intercepted a pass and defensed two others. McCray would've gotten credit for a sack had Dolphins quarterback A.J. Feeley not intentionally-grounded a pass attempt to avoid being sacked at the Miami two-yard line. McCray would be a major find for the Jaguars if he's able to help ease the team's desperate need at defensive end.
"I'll get myself in better condition and get ready to get more plays. I felt real comfortable out there," McCray said.
The Jaguars were playing without defensive ends Paul Spicer (foot sprain) and Tony Brackens (leg muscle tear). Defensive tackle Rob Meier was the Jaguars' starting left defensive end.
"We started good against the run. We need to get on the same number against the pass," middle linebacker Mike Peterson said in evaluating the defense's performance.
The Dolphins' lone touchdown of the game was scored against the Jaguars' third-string defense in the fourth quarter. Against the Jaguars' first-team defense, the Dolphins barely moved the ball on the ground, gaining only 12 yards rushing in the first half.
"Every game you play you want to win, but you know it doesn't count," Leftwich said of the preseason. "We'll put more things in. We'll game-plan more," he said of the game against the Bucs.
Doug Johnson was ineffective in his two series of action. Johnson completed none of his five pass attempts and was replaced by Quinn Gray for the Jaguars' final possession of the game. Gray completed six of seven pass attempts for 61 yards and moved the Jaguars to the Dolphins' three-yard line with just under two minutes to play in the game, but he threw incomplete in the end zone on fourth down.
"It's being demanded every day," Del Rio said when asked if he'll seek a greater sense of urgency from his offense this week, the final full week of training camp. "It was from day one and it will be throughout the season. We expect big things from our guys this season," he added.
Del Rio would seem content now to build on the little things he saw in his offense against the Dolphins.