by Cole Pepper
September 8, 2013
The Jaguars lost the season opener to the Kansas City Chiefs 28-2. Here are my takeaways from the game.
Pass protection-There were many problems for the Jaguars offense, but this was the biggest issue. When the Jaguars passed (and they passed too often), they didn’t protect well at all. Blaine Gabbert was sacked six times and pressured many more. When the Jaguars were in obvious passing situations, the Chiefs either pressured Gabbert, or they rushed three and dropped eight into coverage. The Jaguars couldn’t do anything about it.
Pass Rush-We assume this is going to be an issue all year log. Gus Bradley prefers to rush four. In the second half, he mixed in a few blitzes with varying success. I think that Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich will have to dial up more blitzes if they are going to manufacture pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Aside from the lack of pass pressure, i thought the defense looked sort of okay (I’m looking for positives, here). They faced too many short fields as a result of poor special teams play and turnovers.
Quarterback Play-Gabbert wasn’t very good. The eye test tells you that and the stats confirm it (16/35, 121 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions). It did not appear that the thumb was an issue for Gabbert until he cut his hand, requiring 15 stitches, with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Some decision making problems were exacerbated by poor protection and drops from a number of guys who were very reliable in the preseason (Ace Sanders, Allen Reisner, even Cecil Shorts failed to hang on to one). Gabbert just isn’t good enough at this point to overcome a lack of help around him. There was another issue that I had with the offensive approach. Read on.
Run/Pass Inbalance-In his first regular season game as an NFL offensive coordinator, Jedd Fisch called 44 pass plays and 20 run plays with a quarterback playing with broken thumb. Maurice Jones-Drew carried only 15 times. This with an offense that played without Justin Blackmon (league suspension) and Marcedes Lewis (calf). Why put so much of the game on Gabbert’s shoudlers? It doesn’t make sense to me.
Putting It Into Perspective
Above all other topics, this season is about finding out if Blaine Gabbert is the Jaguars quarterback of the future. In that context, you can put every game on Gabbert’s shoulders. But if Gabbert continues to play like he did against the Chiefs, its going to be a tough sell to leave him out there. Maybe his thumb was a bigger factor that it appeared, maybe Lewis and Blackmon will make that kind of a difference when they are back in there and maybe Jedd Fisch just needs a little more time to learn how NFL defenses will respond to the Jaguars offense. Or maybe, this team is worse than it was last year. After one week, that sure seems like a possibility.