Jaguars defensive players are in disagreement with the scheme employed in Tennessee's game-winning touchdown drive Sunday, but coach Tom Coughlin told reporters today scheme is not as much an issue as the defense's failure to make plays.
"Somehow, some way you have to disrupt. That's as far as I'm going to go with it," Coughlin said when asked to comment on player criticism that the Jaguars' defensive scheme was too soft. "It's easy to sit back and say you should've done this or you should've done that," he added.
Defensive tackle Gary Walker was believed to be expressing dissent in the scheme today when he offered these comments: "We have to do what we do best. Just be the Jaguars. We just have to have better communication between the players and the coaches. I want to win. If I say something, it's because I want to win," Walker said.
Walker was asked several times by reporters to be more specific in his remarks, but declined. He understood reporters interpreted his remarks to be in direct criticism of the Jags' final-stand defensive scheme, and at one point in the conversation he told reporters further commentary would be offered on Wednesday.
"It's coming. Write what I say. Everybody has got to be on the same page. I want to win. How many times are you going to see a team with the talent we have here. You've got to clear your mind and think about winning," Walker said.
When asked what he meant by the comment, "It's coming," Walker said: "I'll talk to you about that on Wednesday."
A reporter asked Walker about the Jaguars' failure to stop Steve McNair's passes for tight end Frank Wycheck. "We knew he was out there. You gotta play the defense that's called," Walker said.
Linebacker Kevin Hardy was more diplomatic in voicing his disapproval of the scheme. "It was capable of succeeding on certain plays, but any time you play a soft zone the underneath routes are going to be open. I really think we should be in a more aggressive coverage; more man to man," Hardy said.
Coughlin confirmed the Jaguars were deployed in a zone pass-defense late in the game, but he inferred the choice was made as a result of the Jaguars defense's inability to execute anything more daring earlier in the second half.
"Let's play the game exactly as we did in the first half," he said of the halftime conversation, when the Jaguars enjoyed a 17-7 lead. "They drive the ball. Even when we pressure, we don't get there. When we do get there, Steve McNair pulls the ball down and runs. We did not contest one ball. Not one ball was close to being intercepted. We didn't play well enough in the second half to push us over the top."
McNair drove the Titans 77 yards in 12 plays and 80 yards in 10 plays to take a 21-17 lead with 14:07 to play in the game.
"What is the issue here. I'm upset. When I look at that tape and see what could've happened, I'm upset. We didn't do enough to win," Coughlin said.
In the second half, the Titans held the ball for 20 minutes, giving them a 16-minute time-of-possession advantage for the game. "Thirty-eight (minutes) to 22 (minutes) and you see a 28-24 score and you're scratching your head," Coughlin said. The Titans dominated most categories, rushing stats most prominently.
"You've got to stop the run. That's the number one thing in the league. If you can stop the run, you can put pressure on some people. I think we need to be more physical. We need to be a stronger force," Coughlin said.
This marks the second time this year players have rejected defensive coordinator Gary Moeller's scheme. They originally expressed dissent with Moeller's scheme in the preseason.
"There was a good mix of fronts and coverages. In that drive, it was gone," Coughlin conceded. "For the variety of things we tried to do in the second half, we didn't disrupt anything."