Last week it was "stop the run." This week it's "stop the pass." That should pretty much cover it on defense.
"There weren't any revolutionary concepts thrown at us. There was a nice quarterback making some nice throws into some poor coverage," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said in capsule evaluation of his team's meltdown in pass-defense Sunday afternoon.
The result of that meltdown was a 38-17 loss to Drew Bledsoe and the Buffalo Bills. So, at 0-2 and coming off consecutive weeks in which the Jaguars suffered the greatest point-spread collapse in team history and the most lopsided home loss in team history, what is the hope heading into Sunday's game at Indianapolis? Well, that the pass-defense will make the same dramatic improvement this week that the run-defense made last week.
"It sure would be nice because I know Peyton Manning will be licking his chops if we don't get it right," Del Rio said.
These are not happy times for this new era in Jaguars football. What the team hoped and believed would be an exciting start under the guidance of an energetic-young coach has been quite the opposite. Fueled by an unpopular television blackout yesterday, fan discord has replaced "Hurricane Isabel" as the greatest threat to the First Coast.
Del Rio understands.
"It always hurts when you want something real bad to happen and it doesn't go your way. Believe me, nobody feels that pain more than me," Del Rio said.
What will it take to make the pain stop? That's easy: a complete effort this Sunday in Indianapolis, where the Jaguars will kick-off their AFC South season against the 2-0 Colts.
Del Rio needs for his run-defense to stop Edgerrin James as it did Travis Henry (26 yards rushing) yesterday, and to limit Manning to something between the 19 yards the Jaguars allowed Rodney Peete in one half of football in Carolina, and the 314 yards they surrendered to Bledsoe in three quarters yesterday.
"What we played yesterday was a lot of bad technique," Del Rio said when asked if his secondary played mostly zone or man-to-man coverage.
"If we get beat because we're not good enough, I can handle that. But if we get beat because we don't play proper technique, that's frustrating," Del Rio added.
"I know some of the things I say are clichés and you don't want to hear them, but you win or lose as a team. We just weren't good enough," he added, referring to the fact his defense's lack of pass-coverage was matched by its absence of a pass-rush. "We didn't get enough of either one yesterday," Del Rio said.
Making matters worse for Del Rio is his team's injury report, which lists punt-returner/wide receiver Jermaine Lewis as lost for the season with a torn ACL he suffered on a double-reverse play Sunday. Meanwhile, linebacker Keith Mitchell is said to have regained feeling in all of his extremities, after having sustained a neck injury in the first half.
Nickel-back Kiwaukee Thomas will miss time with a torn groin muscle and linebacker Eric Westmoreland is hobbled by a strained MCL.
Roster changes will be announced as early as this afternoon. Meanwhile, Del Rio spoke to his team about the "need to play better football. We shored up some things with our run-defense and we need to shore-up some things in our pass-defense. We're going to coach 'em up," he said.