The Jaguars threw for 323 yards and blew away the Tennessee Titans on Sunday in what was a rare display of explosiveness on offense, and everybody wants to know why. Are these the new Jaguars or are the Titans really that bad against the pass?
A combination of the two is the likely answer. The Titans are tied with the Jaguars for last in the league in pass-defense following Sunday's game, and coach Jack Del Rio said he knew heading into the game that quarterback David Garrard would have to have a big day for the Jaguars to win.
"Our quarterback had to play well. They're going to force you to throw and David did play well. He got the game ball (on offense)," Del Rio said.
Safety Gerald Alexander got the game ball on defense and kicker Josh Scobee for special teams.
The emergence of rookie wide receiver Mike Thomas has given the Jaguars offense an element of explosiveness and diversity the Jaguars have long been missing. Thomas debuted two weeks ago in Houston and he has been used in a multitude of ways by Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter. Thomas has run the ball six times for 45 yards on end-around types of plays and he has caught six passes for 41 yards, most of those catches of the wide receiver screen variety.
Thomas has allowed the Jaguars to stretch the field sideways. At the same time, Mike Sims-Walker has emerged as the Jaguars' downfield go-to guy. Sims-Walker leads the Jaguars with 19 catches for 278 yards and three touchdowns.
"Mike (Thomas) is a good weapon for us. He's been a weapon offensively with his speed. He's done a nice job in his role," Del Rio said.
As a result of all of this, the Jaguars offense is up to 10th in the league in total yardage, ninth in rushing and 13th in passing, and Garrard is in the upper half of the league's passer rankings with an 89.1 rating.
"We're doing things we need to do to move the ball and have an explosive element," Del Rio said at Monday's press conference.
"You gotta coach to win," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said of the new wave of aggressive offense in the league. "These young guys they brought in can play. They can step in and go. Dave is spreading the ball around."
The Jaguars find themselves at 2-2 and heading into a four-game stretch of schedule against teams that are a combined 1-15. At 3-3 last year, the Jaguars faced a similarly soft stretch of schedule and then proceeded to lose two of those three games.
"You know why?" Jones-Drew asked. "Because we listened to you guys and we thought we could walk all over them and you can't do that in this league."
Del Rio said his team remains grounded in the one-game-at-a-time approach.
"I think our guys have bought into focusing on one day at a time. It's allowed us to execute a little better," he said.
Is he OK with the 2-2 record for a young team that underwent massive roster turnover?
"Is it OK? It's what it is. We understand where we are and where we want to go. The work ethic gives you a chance. The commitment gives you a chance," Del Rio said.
He was asked if rookie tackle Eugene Monroe will step back in at left tackle this week, following an illness that caused Monroe to be replaced by veteran Tra Thomas on Sunday.
"We'll see how the week goes. He's about 14 pounds down. He was pretty sick," Del Rio said of Monroe.
The Jaguars offense wasn't in good shape after the first two weeks of the seasons, but it's feelin' real good now.