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Part of the plan


If and when it becomes necessary, Luke McCown said Wednesday he has no doubt:

He, too, shall pass – and if necessary, he'll pass often.

McCown, after a little more than a week as the Jaguars' starting quarterback, said while the team's offensive image/philosophy is run-first, run-second and often times run-third – particularly true this past week in the regular-season opener – that doesn't change his belief in himself.

He knows he can throw. And he knows he will do so effectively when needed.

"I'm very confident – very confident," McCown said Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-0) prepared to play the New York Jets (1-0) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Sunday at 1 p.m.

"It never comes down to, 'Quarterback Being Able to Open It Up.' Every part plays a role in how we win. It depends on what is presented to us. Last week, it was an opportunity to really grind it out and put some pressure on defensive linemen, their front seven, and make them stop the run.

"We were able to grind out a win doing it that way. At the end of the day, it's about winning. Whether I throw it 24 times or 34 times, I don't care. I want to win."

McCown, in his eighth season, moved into the starting role last Tuesday. Five days later, he started for the first time in four seasons and the eighth time in his career, completing 17 of 24 passes for 175 yards and no touchdowns with no interceptions in a 16-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

McCown finished the game with a passer rating of 91.5, but because the Jaguars ran nearly twice as much – 47 times for 163 yards – as they threw, some observers criticized the Jaguars for being too "runcentric,"  and questioned whether the team could win long-term with such an approach.

It's not a concern McCown shares, and Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said Wednesday he's not necessarily locked into a run-oriented offense.

"We feel like we've positioned ourselves to be good again on defense and I believe that our offense has been pretty solid," Del Rio said. "Our offense, we'll continue to look to develop. We know what we are and we know the areas we'd like to grow in and so we'll continue to work at it.

"I'm not just stubbornly clinging to the run as a coach. I do want to do what we think we can do well, and I do like the idea of becoming a football team that's complete, that can throw it when it wants to, run it when it wants to, play good defense, play good special teams, be a complete football team.  That's the idea, but I think for us right now you go into each game wanting to put together a plan to win that game."

Del Rio noted that head coaches such as Tony Dungy and Bill Belichick were once known as run-oriented coaches, and that their reputations changed when they began coaching Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, respectively.

"So we'll see, we'll develop," Del Rio said. "I think the idea for a coach is to help his team win, whatever way he thinks that team is best able to do it, and my preference is to be good as a football team – offensively, defensively and special teams."

Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas said he believes the time will come when the team must be more aggressive in the passing game. Thomas said defensive coordinators logically will "box up" against Jacksonville – i.e., stack the line of scrimmage against the run – and he said it's not as if the Jaguars' offensive staff isn't prepared for that possibility.

"Every coach on our staff recognizes that," Thomas said. "We're the Jaguars. We like to run the ball. That's what we're about. When opportunities come for us to open up, I hope we will. As receivers, that is what we live for, to be out there, catching balls, making plays.

"I can sit here and say all day that we're going to open it up, but that's not my decision. I just play team ball, go out and get a victory."

That time could come this week. The Jets were the NFL's top-rated defense last season, and with cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie among the NFL's best cornerbacks, the Jets could stack the middle to stop Maurice Jones-Drew and challenge McCown to make plays.

Should that happen?

"I'm very confident," tight end Marcedes Lewis said.

Lewis said the concern among fans and observers this week over the Jaguars' passing offense against Tennessee is similar to criticism during the preseason over a running game that this past Sunday produced 163 yards on 47 carries.

"People were saying, 'What's up with the running game?''' Lewis said. "That's not an issue. Luke always has prepared as if he were the starter. Now, he is. Nothing changes. We just keep rolling. Everybody every week has to be a little better, and by us being a little better, that makes Luke a little bit better.

"Either way, we're ready to roll and ready to run any play that's dialed up."

And if some game becomes a passing contest?

"Let's go," Lewis said, then referring to a nickname receivers have given McCown, added, "Let's go – ball out."

McCown said he has been around long enough to not worry about the critics, and to know that when needed, he, too, shall pass and pass well.

"It's about what we're doing," McCown said. "It's about our scheme as an offense. I've not had a ton of starts in my career, but I've thrown 37, 38, 39 times in a football game. It's not about not being able to throw the ball. It's playing our scheme, and it's about doing what works for us in our game plan."

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