Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter is not concerned by the Jaguars' 25th-place ranking in points per game. Koetter met with a small group of reporters on Thursday and explained his position on what has become a hot-button topic among Jaguars fans who clamor for more scores.
"You can't lose sight of the fact that the object of the game is to win. When I was a lot younger coach, I cared a lot more about the stats. Maybe when you're an older coach and a fired coach, you start to care more about wins," Koetter said.
Everything else about the Jaguars' offense is at a high level.
David Garrard is the league's fourth-ranked passer and is one of only two quarterbacks in the league who has yet to throw an interception. * The Jaguars have the league's ninth-ranked running game, up from 21st after the first two weeks of the season. *
A receiving corps that was considered to be one of the weakest areas of the team heading into the season, has made dramatic improvements following a case of the drops and wrong routes in the first game of the season. *
"This is the Jaguars offense. It's the Jaguars team trying to win the game. With the kind of defense we're playing, we protected the lead," Koetter said of the second-half play-calling in Kansas City and Denver, where the Jaguars were protecting comfortable leads.
"If you're up by 14 points with the kind of defense the Jaguars have, you're probably best not to turn it over and let Adam kick it in there," Koetter said, referring to Adam Podlesh's punts that were downed at the three, five and eight-yard lines in Kansas City.
Koetter is head coach Jack Del Rio's key new hire. Koetter was hired after being fired as head coach at Arizona State, and he was brought to Jacksonville in part to reclaim the career of quarterback Byron Leftwich. That project, however, was scrapped just nine days before the season-opener when Del Rio decided to make Garrard the team's starting quarterback and Leftwich was cut.
"David handled himself like a pro through everything that happened in the offseason. In the preseason, David got a lot of time and made the most of it," Koetter said.
Garrard has credited Koetter and quarterbacks coach Mike Shula for having found a flaw in the quarterback's delivery; a hop that was costing him accuracy. Without the hop, Garrard has completed passes at a rate of 66.7 percent, up from 60.2 percent last season.
"I think Dave is an accurate passer right now because he's confident in what he's doing. He knows where to go with the ball. He's making great decisions right now. Sometimes taking a sack is better than throwing the ball," Koetter said.
Wide receivers coach Todd Monken is getting a lot of credit for the improvement of his players. Monken was also hired last winter as part of the reconstruction of the offensive coaching staff that installed new coaches at four positions and added an extra assistant coach at wide receiver.
"Our receivers are making progress. All five of those guys are getting better. We haven't needed our passing game to be the feature attraction these past few weeks. The day is coming when our passing game will have to step back up," Koetter said.
What's most impressive about what Koetter and his staff have done is that it has occurred in such a short time. It's also been accomplished with the shocking change at quarterback.
"There's no doubt we were building toward Byron's strengths. We were definitely headed in a little different direction, but Dave could do all that stuff," Koetter said.
He's looking for improvement in two specific areas: 1.) more touchdowns and fewer field goals in the red zone; 2.) improvement in the deep-passing game.
"We've scored 11 out of 13 times in the red zone. The problem is we haven't scored enough touchdowns (four)," Koetter said.
"That's a part of our offense we need to develop," he added of the deep-passing game, "because as people stack it in there, you have to be able to hit the home run."
Some would say the performance of the offense to date is a home run, but the disbelievers lie in wait for a return to the bulky ways of late last season.
"I'm not a disbeliever but I saw Tony Romo throw five interceptions. We'll be fine. What we have going for us is a great defense, good specials teams and we can run the ball," Koetter said.
Some would also include Koetter in that category.