In case you hadn't noticed, the Jaguars have taken on a decidedly different personality and appearance since Jack Del Rio has become the team's head coach.
Under Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars were a team that oozed offense. Whatever they touched on offense seemed to turn to gold, and it didn't matter who was doing the touching.
- Rob Johnson replaced Mark Brunell for the 1997 season opener and led the Jaguars to a thrilling victory in Baltimore. It would be Johnson's only start as Jaguars quarterback.
- Steve Matthews was a re-tread quarterback with a lollipop arm and almost no grasp of the Jaguars playbook, but only two weeks after being signed by the team in '97, Matthews led the Jaguars to a clobbering of the New York Giants. The guy only knew six plays.
- Jamie Martin came off the bench when Brunell suffered a major ankle injury early in a game against the Detroit Lions in 1998, and Martin dropped passes throughout the Lions secondary en route to victory.
- That same season, rookie quarterback Jon Quinn, in just his second start, beat the Steelers on Monday Night Football.
Yeah, offense came easy for Coughlin's Jaguars. Even when the Jaguars fell hard into losing at the end of Coughlin's reign as coach, they could still move the ball.
Stopping the ball from being moved, however, seemed to always be a problem. Under Coughlin, the Jaguars only once achieved the defensive rankings Del Rio's rookie team produced. Even at that, Coughlin's 1999 defense dropped off sharply late in the season.
It is that way with certain coaches. Coughlin was about offense; Del Rio is about defense. Very seldom do you find a coach who's about both.
These days, everything the Jaguars touch on defense seems to turn to gold. Even defensive end, a position considered to be of great desperation for the Jaguars, appears to be assembling an impressive and maybe even deep cast of characters. Tony Brackens is gone, but Brandon Green, Bobby McCray and Akin Ayodele have all of a sudden emerged. Lose one, find three! It was once that way for the Jaguars on offense; now it's that way on defense.
But it's not that easy for the Jaguars on offense any more. Del Rio has said he wants an offense that scores a lot of points. Yeah, and Coughlin always wanted a top-ranked run-defense.
What is it about coaches and their trademark tendencies? How does a team switch personalities that quickly? Amazing!
The point to all of this is that you can't have your cake and the calories, too. Except for those few great teams in NFL history that had it all, the preponderance of teams in this league are one or the other: They either lean toward defense or lean toward offense.
These Jaguars clearly have an identity for defense and we have to accept what goes with that personality: Ball-control offense, low-scoring games and an emphasis on the kicking game and field position.
Previously, the Jaguars' identity was the polar opposite: An up-tempo passing attack, high-scoring games and an emphasis on answering every opponent's scoring drive with a scoring drive.
These are not your father's Jaguars.