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Koetter cutting his teeth


The numbers couldn't speak louder. The figures that tell the story of the Jaguars' dramatic improvement on offense this season all point to the team's first-year offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter. He must be proud, right?

"I don't look at the stats. I never look at the stats," Koetter said.

What? Is that supposed to be a joke? Has there ever been a coordinator of any kind in NFL history who didn't lie awake Sunday night waiting for the league rankings to come out the next morning?

Koetter claims he loses no sleep.

"I'm coming from college," he explained. "A 400-yard, 24-point game wasn't much."

Welcome to the majors, Mr. Koetter.

In his first at-bat in the NFL, Koetter has been a major success. He's taken the team's offense from 10th in the league a year ago to sixth currently. The running game is up a spot, from third to second, and the passing game is up five places, from 24th to 19th.

The big gains, however, are in points scored. The Jaguars are averaging 30.7 points per game over the last nine games. A year ago, the Jaguars averaged 23.2 points per game.

"I was very conservative early in the year. I didn't want to be the one who screwed us up," Koetter said.

If Koetter is unfamiliar with the numbers, then how does he judge his offense's improvement?

"You see it in practice and then you see it carrying over into the game. Reggie (Williams) is the perfect example," Koetter said.

"We're playing well on offense right now. It all starts with running the football. (Defenses) can't disguise (coverages) as much because they have to get that eighth guy down there (to stop the run). It all starts with the running game and then it goes to the quarterback," Koetter added.

The Jaguars offense currently has two of the most productive players in the league, quarterback David Garrard and running back Fred Taylor. Garrard has yet to play poorly in a game this year. His lowest passer rating in any game was against the Steelers, an 87.6 in a game in which he threw three touchdowns. Taylor, meanwhile, is on a five-game, 100-yard rushing tear.

"Fred always came across to me as the consummate professional. His ability to break tackles and make long runs look easy, but those runs aren't that easy," Koetter said. "Fred's hot, David's been consistent, Reggie's pretty hot. When Ernest (Wilford) gets his number called, he makes plays."

The Jaguars are a week away from the postseason. It'll be an opportunity for Koetter's offense to prove its true worth in the most pressure-packed time of the season.

"Everyone has told me there is that other level. As we get closer to it, the guys who've been there will help prepare me," Koetter said of the postseason.

All of this, of course, is new to him. Koetter was a life-long college coach until Jack Del Rio hired him last winter, after Koetter had been fired as head coach at Arizona State.

Which do you like better, pro or college football?

"Pro," Koetter said. "Who wouldn't like this? Those three hours on Sunday? What a rush. The intensity and pressure of that game, there's nothing like that."

That's especially true in the postseason.

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