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What do we blame this time?


There wasn't anything as dramatic as a dropped punt or botched punt coverage on which we might blame this loss. This one was significantly broader in scope. Blame the black pants.

On national television Sunday night, the New York Giants dealt the Jaguars a thorough thrashing. The Giants ran it and threw it and stopped the Jaguars from doing either in a first half of dominance that left coach Tom Coughlin to stare at embarrassing statistical comparisons.

• Fourteen minutes time of possession advantage for the Giants, who ran 44 plays to the Jaguars' 17.

• Twenty-one first downs for the Giants compared to the Jaguars' three.

"In the first half, we never really stopped them. That was the most disappointing thing of all. The tempo and speed they played with; the fourth-and-17 said it all," Coughlin told reporters following the Jaguars' 24-17 defeat at Giants Stadium.

It was the Giants' conversion of a fourth-and-17 play with 16 seconds remaining in the first half that gave the Giants a respectable points-to-yards ratio. The Giants could've scored on all of their first-half drives, but the late score at least offered the home team some form of reward for their dominant performance.

"That was huge," Coughlin said of the fourth-and-17 play. "I thought that if we could get into the locker room down 7-0, that would've been unreal for the half they had offensively."

Is that what this season has become for the Jaguars? Is this about trying to keep it close?

Their losing streak has reached four games, and that's reason enough to feel bad about the direction of this team, but, quite frankly, that's not the real downer. What's become most troubling about this team is that it claims to have been ready to play and that it put forth great effort, yet, the results have become embarrassingly lopsided. Has it come to this that even when the Jaguars play their hardest, they are not capable of winning? The Eagles, Jets and Chiefs would answer "no," but their frame of reference is the first month of the season and, since then, the Jaguars have not been the same team.

The statistical comparison between the Jaguars and Giants over the first 55 minutes of Sunday's game -- before the Jaguars began their aerial assault of the Giants' prevent defense -- would suggest the Jaguars were anything but ready to play and offered little in the way of resistance. But Coughlin and his quarterback, Mark Brunell, spoke boldly for their team's effort.

"They tried. They came in here to play. They never stopped trying," Coughlin said before making a point of praising second-year defensive tackle Marcus Stroud for having returned to the game following a first-quarter knee injury.

"Marcus Stroud had a second-degree (medial collateral ligament) sprain and played the whole game. We've never had a guy around here … I think he deserves some credit," Coughlin added.

Brunell expressed shock at his team's first-half incompetence, which included a mere 101 yards -- just 14 yards rushing -- of total offense by the Jags.

"If ever there was a game this season that I thought we were ready to roll, it was this one. It was puzzling," Brunell said.

Yes, it is very puzzling. It has become the season of the unexplainable. How does a team that won three in a row now find itself in a tailspin that will reach five consecutive defeats for the third consecutive year, if the Jaguars don't beat the visiting Redskins this Sunday? And this losing streak has to be considered a major issue because it has become a distinct trend.

In each of the last three seasons, the Jaguars have started fast before falling into a midseason slump. For the second consecutive year, the Jaguars are 3-5 at the halfway point in the season.

The time for figuring all of this out is over. Racking our brains hasn't helped ease the situation. It's real simple: All teams are judged by their record. If the real Jaguars are the team that got off to a 3-1 start, they'll recover from this tailspin soon enough to re-join the AFC South title race. If that doesn't happen, we'll know that win over the Eagles was a fluke.

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