Yes, it is good to get a W, but that was one heck of a sloppy game, at least in the first half. If this game had turned out differently, it would have been a crushing loss; that it went the other way is something to be glad about, but it is not something to hang your hat on. Next week has to be different.
The first half was exasperating, and hard to watch. Mental errors that gave away first downs, broken coverage that resulted in a Jacksonville TD, physical mistake that led to another, stupid penalties, trying to force plays that result in turnovers... the list goes on and on. Although overall the defense played fairly well in the first half, and forced a number of FG's rather than giving up TD's, the TD they did give up was almost a backbreaker.
Here's what I saw:
OL - A number of blown assignments again, making me wonder what happened to the improvements from last week. There was a lot of penetration that was allowed, bloks missed that led to Palmer taking hits, sacks, and running to try to avoid negative plays. I will say again that I question whether Veldheer is a true LT; at this point, I think that a LT in the first round should seriously be considered, and the loser of that battle goes to RT. RT... another game that Smith struggled mightily in; I don't know when Barnes is due back, but it may be worth taking a look at someone, anyone else. False start and holding penalties didn't help the cause either.
RB - I was a bit surprised to not see Goodson get a few more carries than he has lately; it just seems that he is more comfortable with the back cuts that are called for than McFadden is. That isn't to say that McFadden can't or won't end up doing it, or that he should be benched, but Goodson has earned more carries. In this game, there didn't seem to be the same opportunities that were there last week, so I can't/won't fault McFadden. Reece looked good, and was a nice weapon in the passing game, even Schmitt made a play when it was needed.
WR/TE - Some drops that hurt, but enough plays made when they were needed that the game was saved. Myers had a solid game, but it is a problem when your TE is the only one that the QB really has confidence in, although it seems that Streator is moving up that ladder.
QB - Palmer took another beating today, and while he was able to make some big plays, he also almost handed the game to Jacksonville with that ugly turnover. He got away with another duck that fell incomplete, but I hope that this game turns out to be the aberration, which it was compared to the games so far. Palmer was fairly accurate, and did a pretty solid job considering the pressure he was under all day.
DL - Another solid but not spectacular day. The DL was able to occupy blocks, freeing the LB's the make plays, at or behind the LOS. They also stepped it up during the second half, and especially during OT. Shaughnessy drew double teams, and Houston was able to take advantage of that, and turned in a big game.
LB - Burris had a big game, and Wheeler was solid, although he missed some tackles that he has been making so far. Even McClain had a decent game, and this group really stuffed the run, then turned up the heat in the passing game, getting regular pressure.
DB - Really, other than the blown coverage that resulted in the first TD, a very good game from this group. It does look like Huff should seriously be looked at as a DB permanently, he has played better than I thought he would. No, the Jaguars WR's don't exactly strike fear into most defensive units, but he was good in coverage, something that I didn't know whether or not he could continue. Mithcell and Branch generally did well, and seem to have upgraded their tackling.
ST - The muffed punt hurt, but it was the only real breakdown. The return game is improving, but punt coverage still seems a little loose. Nice jobs by both Lechler and Janikowski; I was really hoping that Janowkoski would set the record at home, but no such luck...
Coaching - Tarver did a great job, in my opinion; the reason that Jacksonville was able to score was due more to field position than anything else that they did. He has gambled more as the defensive backfield has shown that they can handle it. I wasn't enamored of Knapp's playcalling early, through most of the first half; I thought he did better in the second half, from around the midpoint of the third quarter. Still, sometimes adjustments need to be made sooner. I thought that Allen did a good job of rallying the troops after a horrendous first half, although I hated the use of TO's in the second half.
All in all, as I said before, I'll always take a win, but this wasn't exactly what I hope to see again. One good thing that came from this is that we fought through adversity and poor play to post a much-needed win; I just hope that much heart isn't necessary to recover from another stinky half like that again. Anotehr positive is that the defense seems to be coming together; I know that Jacksonville lost their RB and QB, but that was still a helluva effort in the second half, I think that Jacksonville had about 50 yards total during that time.