Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Burden for Fixing Jags Really Rests with Brunell

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Burden for Fixing Jags Really Rests with Brunell

Article excerpt

The Jaguars ship isn't sunk. It has just veered significantly off course.

We're not talking Team Titanic yet. There's still time before the black-and-teal passengers on the S.S. Coughlin have to worry about hitting that iceberg, but each second is precious now. Everybody on board needs to have the urgency of a quarterback in the two-minute offense.

And, really, isn't that what resurrecting the slumping Jaguars comes down to -- the quarterback?

You can dissect the problems from all different angles. Point the finger at a badgered, inexperienced offensive line. Blame the injuries that have killed continuity and forced young players into starting roles for which they're not quite ready. Or, play the team-lacks-toughness card because, well, it makes for a good television sound bite.

Theories aside, the burden for fixing whatever is wrong with the Jaguars falls heaviest on Mark Brunell. That's the law in the NFL. Prosperity or mediocrity pretty much rests with the quarterback. Everybody else just plays a supporting role.

Brunell is the major reason why the Jaguars went on that second-half joy ride in 1996 to their first AFC Championship game. Only a few of his peers have handled the most scrutinized position in sports better than the lefty from the Left Coast.

Just as Brunell was the answer during the last four prosperous years, so must he also be the solution now.

If the 2-3 Jaguars have any chance of reverting to the form that made them AFC Central champions the last two seasons, a lot of things must change starting with Sunday's rematch against the Baltimore Ravens. The offensive line has to block and protect better. The defense has to get back to dictating tempo. And if this team has an emotion shortage, it's up to the coaches and players to light that fire by whatever means necessary.

But the turnaround essentially rests on Brunell's arm. That is the Jaguars' ultimate weapon, one that Coughlin must use on more than just second- or third-and-long.

Wanting to establish the run -- as Coughlin declared was his first priority in last week's abysmal 24-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers -- is all well and good. …

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