Defensive injuries mounting, showing for Jaguars
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP)
All those defensive injuries finally caught up with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars played without five defensive starters and several key backups Monday night against San Diego, and it showed in a 38-14 loss. The Jaguars (3-9) were torched in the secondary, gouged on the ground and essentially out of the game by halftime.
It could get worse, too.
Jacksonville placed defensive end John Chick on injured reserve Tuesday, the team's 21st player deemed out for the season. Given injuries to fellow defensive ends Aaron Kampman (hamstring) and Matt Roth (concussion), it was no surprise the Jaguars failed to put much pressure on Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
Rivers completed 22 of 28 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns. He picked apart Jacksonville's secondary, which played without its top three cornerbacks.
''It was a tough night,'' linebacker Russell Allen said. ''We didn't start out fast on defense. We let them score right away and that kind of set the tone. ... We just have to trust in the guys we've got and we just have to execute better.''
Rivers connected on long touchdowns throws to Vincent Brown, Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd. The first two came on consecutive possessions in the final two minutes of the first half and put San Diego ahead 24-14. The third one came on the opening drive of the third quarter and left the offensively challenged Jaguars in an uncomfortable chase mode.
''It doesn't leave a good taste in your mouth going in at halftime, then they come out with the ball and make a couple of plays,'' defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. ''It's not how we want to play on defense. ... We just didn't show up.''
The Jaguars allowed 433 yards, their second-most this season, and fell from fourth to fifth in total defense. The unit could slide even further over the final four games considering the mounting injuries.
Although Kampman and Roth could return for the final four games, cornerbacks Rashean Mathis, Derek Cox and Will Middleton, and linebacker Clint Session are out for the season. Safety Dwight Lowery left the game with a shoulder injury, but interim coach Mel Tucker said he should return against Tampa Bay.
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Jacksonville's defense had been the lone bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Jaguars. Team owner Wayne Weaver fired longtime coach Jack Del Rio last week and announced he has agreed to sell the team.
Because Tucker had done such a good job in his first season in control of the defense, Weaver named him the interim coach and said the final five games would serve as an audition for the head job.
His debut was a dud.
The Jaguars took a 14-10 lead with back-to-back touchdown drives in the second quarter. But it was all Rivers from there. He picked on cornerbacks Ashton Youboty and rookie Kevin Rutland. Youboty was signed off the street three weeks ago, and Rutland played mostly on special teams this season before making his first career start.
Tucker eventually benched Youboty and replaced him with Morgan Trent, who was signed four days earlier.
''You won't hear any excuses or explanations from me and I doubt you will hear it from any players in the locker room,'' Tucker said. ''Our philosophy is next man up and that's how we operate. Regardless of the circumstances, the guys that are on our roster available to play we feel like they can get the job done now.
''Do we need to get better in those areas or do we need gain more experience from our mistakes? Absolutely. But there are no excuses here. We won't allow ourselves to go down that road.''