Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

Recovery time


They are angry teams coming off stinging defeats. In the Jaguars' case, it's a loss in Houston that's created somewhat of a quarterback controversy. In the Eagles' case, it's consecutive last-play-of-the-game losses on the road that give coming home a special meaning.

The 3-3 Jaguars make their first-ever trip to Philadelphia, where they'll face the 4-3 Eagles at The Linc on Sunday. The Jaguars will also face the league's number one offense and leader in touchdown passes.

"We're a little fired up. I'm sure they're fired up as well. When you have home field and your crowd, you can have that extra boost, that 12th man, and hopefully you can benefit from it," Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said.

McNabb is the NFL's second-rated passer with a 101.7 rating. His 16 touchdown passes have him on course for the best year of his career. Who needs T.O., right? Not McNabb, mostly because he has Brian Westbrook.

"It's an added dimension. When you have a guy like Westbrook, who can do a lot of different things, it gives your offense an opportunity to run your offense and throw a couple of wrinkles in there and get the things you want to get accomplished," McNabb said.

Westbrook and McNabb each succumbed to injuries in the second half of last season, in what was a lost year for the then-defending NFC champs. The two of them are back together this year and they are pushing each other for MVP honors.

As McNabb goes, so goes Westbrook, and vice versa. Westbrook is McNabb's favorite receiver with 30 catches for 333 yards and three touchdowns. Westbrook is also the Eagles' leading rusher with 462 yards for a 5.5 yards per carry average and four touchdowns.

The Eagles are number one in passing and number eight in rushing and that has them at number one in the league in total offense.

"He's made a lot of big plays in the run game and in the passing game. He has just continued to overwhelm people with the things he can do, but we see it every day. When they talk about what these other people can do as far as after the catch and running between the tackles, you have to mention a guy like Brian Westbrook," McNabb said.

Simply put, Westbrook is the game's best all-purpose running back.

What about McNabb? Is he the game's best all-around quarterback?

Clearly, no quarterback in the NFL combines pass-run ability as McNabb does. McNabb leads the NFL with 2,151 yards, which is more than 500 yards more than Peyton Manning currently has and nearly a thousand yards more than Tom Brady. McNabb is second only to Michael Vick in quarterback rushing. McNabb has rushed for 163 yards and three touchdowns.

In the throes of a two-game losing streak and playing in front of the home crowd for the first time in three weeks, you might expect the Eagles to be primed for an offensive explosion against the Jaguars, but that's not what McNabb expects.

"It'll be a grind. I don't expect it to be a shootout. You are talking about two defenses that like to fly around … so I expect this to be a grind," McNabb said.

The Eagles defense isn't the equal of the team's offense – the Eagles are 16th overall on defense (14th against the run and 21st against the pass) – but it's an aggressive unit that has 25 sacks. Jim Johnson is a blitz-happy defensive coordinator and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio is expecting nothing less on Sunday.

"You know Jim Johnson is going to bring a lot of pressure," Del Rio said.

The big issue for the Jaguars is at quarterback. Who'll be the starter?

Byron Leftwich played poorly on a sprained ankle last Sunday and Del Rio announced on Wednesday that Leftwich and David Garrard would split time at quarterback this week in practice. Leftwich is listed as "questionable" to play.

Garrard would offer the mobility to counter the Eagles' pass-rush, but Garrard has yet to beat a team of the Eagles' quality in his five-year career as a backup. Garrard was 4-1 as a starter in Leftwich's stead late last season. The four wins, however, were against bottom-of-the-standings teams.

"Both teams are trying to find a way to get the ship righted," Del Rio said.

"The biggest challenge is not allowing anybody to tell us how good we are or how bad we are during the week. Understand that we are still a good football team. Any week in this league, if you don't come ready to play, you will lose. We all knew that. That's any team. You have to come ready to play every week, ready to perform, and you have to try to find a way to win," Leftwich said.

On Sunday, the challenge will clearly be the Eagles.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content