‘Critical time’ for Jags after consecutive routs

Coming off consecutive lopsided losses, coach Jack Del Rio is

calling it ”a critical time” for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He could probably say the same thing about his tenure in

Jacksonville.

The Jaguars (1-2) need to beat six-time defending AFC South

champion Indianapolis on Sunday to avoid their worst start since

Del Rio’s first season in 2003.

”It’s very important that we get the ship righted right away,”

Del Rio said Monday.

That’s no easy task considering Jacksonville has a porous

secondary, an inconsistent pass rush and an ineffective quarterback

who has seemingly lost confidence.

Here’s the bigger issue: The Jaguars have few options.

They waived defensive back Michael Coe on Monday, a day after he

gave up a 61-yard touchdown pass in a 28-3 loss to Philadelphia,

and re-signed safety Gerald Alexander. Alexander started 10 games

last season, but was released in final roster cuts after struggling

in the preseason.

Del Rio also benched starting cornerback Derek Cox the last two

games, leaving him on the sideline as Philip Rivers (334 yards and

three TDs) and Michael Vick (291 yards and three TDs) picked apart

everyone else in the secondary. Could Cox have helped?

”We’re not really concerned with the perception or the look,”

Del Rio said. ”We’re more concerned with the end result we’re

looking for. He’s working hard, and he will at some point help our

football team win games. What he has to do right now is control the

things that he has control over, which is effort, his energy, his

focus. When we as a staff feel like he’s ready to help us win,

we’ll play him.”

The Jaguars have no one to turn to behind Garrard, who has

thrown five interceptions and been sacked eight times the last two

weeks. Backup Luke McCown was placed on injured reserve last week

after tearing a knee ligament, leaving 38-year-old journeyman Todd

Bouman as the backup.

Jacksonville signed quarterback Keith Null to the practice squad

Monday, but it could be weeks before he even learns the

playbook.

So the Jaguars are stuck with Garrard, who completed 13 of 30

passes for 105 yards and an interception against the Eagles.

”As long as he’s our best option, we’ll continue to go with

him,” Del Rio said.

Del Rio said Garrard may have lost confidence after consecutive

poor performances. He threw four interceptions in a 38-13 loss at

San Diego and would have had even more turnovers Sunday had

Philadelphia not dropped several interceptions. Garrard also

botched a pitch to Maurice Jones-Drew.

”I think he wants very badly to win for his teammates, and the

last two weeks haven’t gone that way for him,” Del Rio said.

Garrard was under steady pressure much of the game, but Del Rio

made it clear that the quarterback needed to do a better job of

reading the defense and getting rid of the ball. Nonetheless, the

offensive line took the blame for Garrard’s woes.

”We didn’t do a good of protecting him,” guard Justin Smiley

said. ”It hurts to stand in front of these cameras and say that we

didn’t do a good job, but that’s the truth of it. We’re grown men

and we’ve got to keep him upright. That’s the only way you can make

plays down the field. He’s taking all these hits. How can we expect

our leader to lead us if we can’t do that?

”We have big shoulders and we have to shoulder the blame. Talk

is cheap. You can’t talk about it and say, ‘Oh, we’ve got 13 games

left.’ There has to be a sense of urgency. You have to stop the

bleeding. It’s going to be up to us.”

The Jaguars have lost five of the last six games against the

Colts (2-1), so how realistic is that they can get things turned

around this week?

”Whatever we have to do as a team to pull together – there’s

going to be a lot of nay-sayers – we have to do that,” right

tackle Eben Britton said. ”We have to rely on the guys in this

locker room. You can’t look elsewhere. That’s really what it’s all

about, making sure every guy in this locker room has each other’s

back. We’ve just got to take our medicine from this.”

Del Rio told players they needed to ”circle the wagons,”

anticipating the attention this week being mostly negative.

”The talking heads are going to discuss who is the Super Bowl

winner right now and who’s the team whose coach and quarterback are

gonna get canned,” Del Rio said. ”It’s a week-to-week business.

It’s all great for ratings and it’s all great for the popularity of

the game. But for this football team, we can’t get caught up in the

hype when it’s good or the beatdown when it’s bad.

”We’ve got to stay focused on what we’re doing and got to

continue to prepare.”