It may be Gus Bradley’s plan for the Jacksonville Jaguars defense, but come game day, play calling is left to defensive coordinator Bob Babich.
The Jaguars have given up 73 points in the past two games, both losses to teams with two wins at the time. Those games were ones that got away, ones the Jaguars should have proven they were the better franchise. Instead of being 6-6 and everyone in the city talking about the playoffs like it was a reality and possibility, the team has fallen to 4-8 and will need a Christmas miracle to see the post season.
That’s why games against both Indianapolis and Houston in the final four weeks of the season are so critical. Sprinkle in games with Atlanta and New Orleans and these are four games Jacksonville can sweep. But all bets are off because the defense is so porous and there is no pass rush to speak of.
Defense is Bradley’s calling card, the reason he was hired from Seattle to replace Mike Mularkey and start a new regime in north Florida. Now, Bradley looks like he is lost at times and the defense, which has been beset by injuries, is ranked 30th in the NFL in points allowed. Is this a problem Bradley can fix? More importantly, who falls on the sword for the failure to execute when the defense must play tougher than the previous week?
“The Achilles heel of the Jaguars currently is the fact that they absolutely cannot get pressure on opposing team’s defenses, so they continue to give up back break scoring drives that will likely doom the team in the final four games of the season, considering the quarterbacks they’re going to be facing,” wrote Alfie Crow of bigcatcounttry.com.
He has a point. The offense looks like it is ready to take on the world at times. The defense looks like it wants to run away.
Can the Jaguars fix the problems that exist with four games remaining and snag a playoff berth at 8-8? A lot would have to happen to make that miracle come true. Bradley, although he isn’t sure how it can be fixed, is still optimistic.
In other NFL news…
NEWTON TAKING HOME HARDWARE
For the third time in five weeks, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton won Offensive Player of the Week honors. It just keeps getting better for the league’s only undefeated team and for Newton, who is a serious MVP candidate.
As David Newton of ESPN.com pointed out, the award came on the one-year anniversary of Newton’s automobile accident that sidelined him for one game with two broken bones in his lower back.
Newton was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his five-touchdown pass performance in a 41-38 victory at New Orleans that brought Carolina to 12-0.
With Newton racking up awards and victories, can this Panthers team, which hasn’t lost in its last 16 games, go undefeated? As long as the former Heisman Trophy winner continues to push his team through the NFL schedule, it remains a possibility.
Newton has a 14-0 record since the accident in which his pickup truck rolled when clipped by a car on an overpass not far from Bank of America Stadium.
GIVE PETERSON THE DAMN BALL
Mike Zimmer was quick to agree that Adrian Peterson should be given the ball more in the Minnesota Vikings offensive game plan. Peterson has been critical of the team’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday, stating the Vikings got “out coached.”
Ben Goessling of ESPN.com wrote in his story on the website that, “Peterson only got eight carries in the loss — the fewest he’s had in a game where he wasn’t hurt — and said he was frustrated by the lack of opportunities on Sunday.”
Peterson, who leads the NGL in rushing, said the assessment of the team did not warrant a meeting with Zimmer or offensive coordinator, Norv Turner. The Vikings are still squarely in the playoff hunt in the NFC and will face Arizona on Sunday.