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Eric Goska column: Jaguars' offense can't keep up

Oct. 26, 2012
 
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert walks off the field after their 27-7 loss to the Houston Texans on Sept. 16.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert walks off the field after their 27-7 loss to the Houston Texans on Sept. 16. / File/AP

Small fry

Since the start of the 2011 season, teams with the fewest yards from scrimmage and the number of regular-season games in which theyíve failed to gain at least 300 yards.

Yds< 300TeamRecord
5,56415Jaguars6-16
6,74313Rams5-18
6,74312Colts5-17
6,88912Browns5-18
6,91611Seahawks11-12
7,05310Bears13-9
7,1379Dolphins9-13
7,1659Jets11-12

More

Remember the little kid in the neighborhood that try as he might couldnít keep up with the older kids as the games changed with the seasons?

The offense of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Packersí opponent Sunday, is a little like that youngster striving to fit in. Week after week it plugs away, only to come up short as it lacks the wherewithal to keep pace.

The trend in the NFL has been toward more offense. Output dipped in 2005, but in every season since, the number of yards the league has generated has increased.

The Jaguars havenít pulled their weight when it comes to this trend, at least not recently. After fielding an offense that tended to rank in the middle to lower end of the pack for much of the last decade, the bottom fell out in 2011.

Now with injuries, most notably to running back Maurice Jones-Drew and quarterback Blaine Gabbert, bringing up the rear is again a distinct possibility. The Jaguars didnít just finish last in total yards a year ago, they did so convincingly, falling nearly 400 yards short of the 31st-ranked Rams.

Every week the NFL publishes a statistical package that stretches more than 50 pages. One page is dedicated to slotting teams in a number of offensive categories.

Jacksonville ranks last in six of the first 10 categories on that page. The Jaguars have nowhere to go but up in terms of total yards, yards per play, net passing yards, net passing yards per play, first downs and third-down efficiency.

Last season, the team ranked last in five of those same six categories. Only in third-down efficiency (ranked 25th) did it escape the cellar.

The running game is not cited among those statistics. That has been a Jaguarsí strength.

Jones-Drew led the league with 1,606 yards on the ground in 2011. He was the only back to account for more than 80 percent of his teamís rushing yardage.

He was at it again this season, logging 414 of the teamís 546 yards, but sprained his left foot during the Jaguarsí 26-23 loss to the Raiders. He will miss the Packers game and perhaps more. Rashad Jennings is expected to take his place.

No, the running game isnít at the root of the teamís offensive woes. The passing game is.

Want to talk quantity? Jacksonville has accumulated by far the fewest net (3,048) and gross (3,510) passing yards since the start of the 2011 season. It hasnít had a passer throw for 300 yards since David Garrard did it in November 2010.

Opponents have thrown for more yards than the Jaguars in 18 of the last 22 games, including the last nine straight. The team has been outgained by more than 100 yards in seven of those nine contests.

Want to talk quality? Jacksonville has the poorest passer rating (65.8) of any team since the start of the 2011 season. No other team is below 70.

Opponents have had better passer ratings than the Jaguars in 16 of the last 22 games. The team hasnít had a triple-digit rating since Garrardís big day nearly two years ago.

Garrard is gone. Gabbert, the teamís first-round draft choice in 2011, has started the last 20 games and is expected to Sunday despite a torn labrum in his left, non-throwing shoulder.

Jacksonville is 6-16 since opening day 2011. Even with Jones-Drew in the picture, the team was outgained and had a poorer average gain per play than its opponents on 14 occasions, including five times this season.

Imagine how low the Jaguars might go without their best offensive threat. Imagine how low Packers fans might go if their team fails to defeat this offensive wannabe of the NFL neighborhood.

Regular-season series

Overall: Series tied 2-2.

At Lambeau Field: Jaguars lead 1-0.

Starting QBs

Packers: Aaron Rodgers (45-24 overall; 0-1 vs. Jacksonville).

Jaguars: Blaine Gabbert (5-15; 0-0 vs. Green Bay).

Once a Jaguar, now a Packer

Long snapper Brett Goode entered the NFL as a nondrafted free agent with the Jaguars in 2007. Receiver Jarrett Boykin was signed by Jacksonville on May 4 and waived three days later.

Once a Packer, now a Jaguar

Tackle Herb Taylor was with the Packers in training camp this season. Offensive lineman Jason Spitz (IR) is a former Packer (2006-10).

Eric Goska is a Press-Gazette correspondent, a Packers historian and the author of ďGreen Bay Packers: A Measure of Greatness,Ē a statistical history of the Packers. Email him at aegoska@sbcglobal.net.

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