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Offense has Jags on the rise


The Jaguars have a top 10 offense for the first time since their last playoff season, 2007, and much about this year's team is starting to take on the look of '07.

Just as it was the case in '07, the running game is driving the Jaguars' success on offense this season. In '07, the Jaguars finished seventh in overall offense, second in the league in rushing and 17th in passing. Through nine games this year, the Jaguars are 10th overall, sixth in rushing and 16th in passing.

"If we can continue to execute, we can as good as we want to be," quarterback David Garrard said.

The formula for success in '07 was big plays in the running game and efficiency in the passing game, as Garrard threw only three interceptions the whole season. Garrard's interceptions are up this year, but so are big plays in the passing game, which is thought to have helped open holes for Maurice Jones-Drew, the NFL's fourth-leading rusher with 860 yards. He leads the league in touchdowns, 12, which has helped Jones-Drew become one of the leading Pro-Bowl vote-getters and a player of genuine star quality.

"It's an honor. A lot of those things belong to the guys around me. A lot of that credit goes to the offense. It's a team game. It's an honor to everybody on the team," Jones-Drew said.

What shouldn't be ignored is that the Jaguars' success on offense has been accomplished with rookies at the critical tackle positions. First and second-round picks Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton have played well enough in recent weeks to largely go unnoticed, the true mark of an accomplished blocker. That wasn't the case, of course, in the season-opener, when Monroe was devoured by the Colts' Dwight Freeney.

"It's exciting," Britton said of his rookie season. "These first nine weeks have gone pretty fast. We've had a lot of ups and downs but we're starting to figure things out.

"Blocking for a guy like MoJo is exciting. If you block your guy long enough, that can be really rewarding. He makes us look good a lot of times," Britton said.

The questions on a lot of fans' lips are: How high can the Jaguars reach this season? Is the Jaguars recent surge for real or just a tease? Can the Jaguars remain a playoff contender into the final month of the season?

"We know we're still afloat. We're at a point that we know if we can continue to play well, we've got a shot," Garrard said.

Confidence is a word spoken often in the Jaguars locker room these days. Five wins in the last seven games has given a young team confidence it can compete at the playoff-contending level.

"I've definitely gotten past the point of feeling like I might be a liability. I'm definitely starting to get some confidence and feel comfortable," Britton said. "We're really starting to progress and get better as a team. You can see in guys' eyes they're hungry. We're just having a blast."

A resurgent offense is responsible for the fun.

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