The Jacksonville Jaguars seemingly impregnable defense has begun to spring leaks.
Jacksonville was stunned when the Chargers ran for 176 yards on the ground in a 34-21 loss at San Diego on Sunday. It was the highest rushing total against Jacksonville since Pittsburgh had 219 in December 2002.
“It is shocking when you’re out there and you see all the first downs and long runs,” defensive end Brandon Green said Monday. “We’re definitely not used to seeing that. But the good thing is it’s something that can be fixed.”
That needs to happen soon with Holmes and Kansas City visiting on Sunday.
“When you played so bad the week before, this is the kind of game that you want to play,” Jags linebacker Mike Peterson said. “You want to play a high-powered offense to get your swagger back and let everybody know that you’re for real.”
The Chiefs have the second best running offense in football, averaging 155 yards a game behind an experienced offensive line. Holmes has run for 476 yards and six TDs to lead the rushing attack.
The Jags hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 17 games before Tennessee’s Chris Brown gained 101 yards against them three weeks ago. Edgerrin James and Dominic Rhodes combined for 120 yards on 24 carries two weeks ago against Jacksonville.
“Anytime a team runs on you, it’s always going to fall on our shoulders,” Peterson said of the linebackers. “Even if we’re not making the mistakes, it’s always going to fall on our shoulders. We’re going to be the guys that take the blame, and we’re definitely ticked off about it.”
The Chiefs, who are coming off a bye week, would like to get their passing offense going to complement Holmes production.
Kansas City’s passing attack has struggled to get going this year. Quarterback Trent Green has thrown for 810 yards and five touchdowns. Teams have been able to key on tight end Tony Gonzalez because of injuries to the Chiefs wide receivers. Gonzalez has been held to 18 receptions and just one touchdown so far.
Kansas City’s defense gave up at least 24 points for the fourth straight game.
However, after a a three-point loss to Houston and a three-point victory in Baltimore, new Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham thinks his team is making strides.
“It’s coming,” said Cunningham on Wednesday. “I knew it was.”
The Texans struggled all day on offense. And at Baltimore last Monday night, the defense held NFL rushing champion Jamal Lewis to just 73 yards and thwarted two fourth-quarter drives to preserve Kansas City’s first win. Two Baltimore touchdowns came on a punt return and a trick play.
“It’s a process. It takes time,” Cunningham said. “We are just staying with a plan we have and we’re going to teach these guys to play football and how to play it the way we believe it should be played.
”`I think the players are buying into what we’ve been telling them. We’ve made steady progress, the last two games in particular.”