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NFL - Are the Jags Really 4-8?

By Kevin Basarab
Monday, December 10th, 2001

The Jacksonville Jaguars are a team used to winning. They have been winning since their second year ever as a team in 1996, going straight to the AFC Championship Game. After a losing record in the 2000 season, the Jaguars were looking to regroup and get back to the playoffs. Now, with only four weeks to go in the 2001 season, the Jaguars are looking at a losing record once again. Seeing the Jaguars' numbers, however, makes you think that they are 8-4 and ready to hit the playoffs again.

Even with a slew of injuries again this season, including RB Fred Taylor's groin injury and QB Mark Brunell continually suffering from a pulled quadriceps, their record is 4-8. Out of the past eight games, the six the Jaguars lost have been lost in the final five minutes of the game.

Jacksonville's offense is looking sharper than ever until the final minutes. The team's offense is ringing up record numbers as Jimmy Smith has six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and Mark Brunell is the sixth-rated passer in NFL history. Going into the fourth quarter, the Jaguars have been leading five out of the past six losses.

The defense is also playing great. Out of the five games lost in the last five minutes, the defense has given up 111 points to the Jaguars' 93 scored. Out of these games, Jacksonville has lost by an average of 3.6 points per game.

Many wonder why Jacksonville has done so badly in the last minutes of the game. Truth is, the coaching staff calling the plays is fully responsible. Jacksonville will play a no-huddle offense early in the game with the passing attack, then after a lead has been built they back down, go back to a huddle and start the running game making Jacksonville go three and out, giving the ball back to their opponent in excellent field position.

The offense is rubbing off on the defense forcing the defense to play longer, tiring them out quicker in the most crucial defensive period of the game. Defensive coordinator Gary Moeller also is changing his play calling for the end of the game. The Jaguars play a very aggressive defense throughout the game and then lay back in the fourth quarter, letting an opponent go down the field 80 yards in the final minute of the game to score the game-winning touchdown.

Jacksonville must change their offensive and defensive schemes in the last minutes of the game back to how they play if it were the first quarter. If the Jaguars could play as they do in the first half of the ball game, the record would be flip-flopped right now and the AFC Central would be the most exciting division to watch. Now, with Jacksonville and Tennessee both falling this season, the AFC Central has been over run by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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