PFW recently caught up with Jaguars radio play-by-play voice Brian Sexton to get his take on several topics leading up to Sunday's Browns-Jaguars game, including the improvement of QB David Garrard.
PFW: In your estimation, what has been the key to Garrard's wonderful play recently after a slow start?
Sexton: The key for David has been his willingness to do more and work harder. (General manager) Gene Smith, (head coach) Jack Del Rio and (offensive coordinator) Dirk Koetter have laid out their expectations, and he's put in more time and demanded the same from his teammates.
You might recall that Del Rio told ESPN during the Super Bowl that Garrard was not elite, Garrard's response could have been like (Bengals WR) Terrell Owens, which is to say selfish and rife with righteous indignation … but it was not. He did everything they asked this offseason and training camp. When things got tougher, they asked more and he delivered more. His work ethic has been the difference.
Additionally, his offensive line gave him more time to set his feet and throw. plus guys like (WR) Mike Sims-Walker, (WR) Mike Thomas and (TE) Zach Miller stepped up and made more plays instead of running soft routes or dropping the ball.
PFW: What has to happen for this team to sustain this momentum and make the playoffs for the first time since 2007?
Sexton: Garrard has to play at the same level for them to have a chance at making a run. Their defense is missing a huge component without (DE) Aaron Kampman rushing the passer and with the 29th(-ranked) pass defense that leaves them somewhat deficient.
The offense has put up more than 30 points their last two games, more and different players are making significant contributions and Garrard is firing on all cylinders — that's the key with a below-average defense.
PFW: You've been calling Jaguars games since they began NFL play, and you've seen some exciting games. Where does the Garrard-to-Thomas "Hail Mary" stack up?
Sexton: The Garrard-to-Thomas play was the most exciting finish since (PK) Josh Scobee's 59-yard field goal beat the Colts in October. They've had some big moments this season! Very exciting endings, but not the most significant since they were just regular-season wins. The field goal in Pittsburgh with 32 seconds left in the 2007 wild card tops it, as does their fourth-quarter come-from-behind win in Denver in January of 1997 in the ’96 divisional playoff game. Thrilling endings help a team which is trying to sell tickets.