by Cole Pepper
October 13, 2013
The Jaguars fell to 0-6 on the season, their worst start ever, but there were some real positives to come out of Sunday’s 35-19 loss to the Broncos in Denver. Here are my takeaways from the game.
Gus Bradley’s message is working-This is the most important development to come out of the game. While Gus Bradley has been talking about his one guiding principle since his first day in Jacksonville: improvement. Bradley preaches improvement as the number one goal and the best way to judge his team. Perhaps that is convenient for a team that doesn’t have much of a chance to contend. However, it’s hard to argue with Bradley’s conviction and even though the final score was not particularly close, the Jaguars certainly have shown some improvement the past two weeks against a week opponent (St. Louis) and a very strong one (Denver).
Justin Blackmon is better-With Cecil Shorts out in the first quarter, Blackmon was dominant, which is all the more impressive because the Broncos were certainly focusing their coverage on him. Blackmon finished the game with 14 receptions for 190 yards. He also showed veteran awareness avoiding unnecessary contact at the end of plays. Those are the sort of decisions that can extend a career or a season. Blackmon’s best games have come with Henne at quarterback (see his 236 yard performance at Houston last year). At some point, Blackmon’s progress may be more important than sticking with Gabbert (if he returns from injury). Blackmon still has room for improvement, which is a good sign for the Jaguars offense going forward.
I’ll take Jonathan Cyprien-Just about every week, the safety makes impact plays. If he’s not delivering a big hit to a receiver, the rookie 2nd round pick is forcing a fumble, as he did on a Knowshon Moreno run.
Maurice Jones-Drew has lost it…just not all of it-It’s clear through the first six games of the season that Maurice Jones-Drew doesn’t have the kind of burst that he did as a younger running back. But he still has the vision and toughness to be effective. In the second and third quarter, especially, Jones-Drew was winning one-on-one collisions. That’ snot the best way to extend a career, but it may be the best way for him to impress personnel directors around the league. Remember, Jones-Drew is in the final year of his contract.
Play of the Game-This was actually less of a play than a decision. After Paul Posluszny intercepted Peyton Manning and returned it for a touchdown to bring the Jaguars to within 2 at 14-12, Gus Bradley went for two and didn’t make it. I like the call. If the Jaguars had made it, Bradley would have been able to refer back to being tied with the Broncos at halftime as a statement of progress. It also allowed the Jaguars to have to perform in a pressure situation, one of the goals of Bradley this year.
Player of the Game (Jaguars edition)-For the second straight week, it’s Justin Blackmon. In two games since returning from league suspension, Blackmon has averaged seven catches for 163 yards. Put another way, if he would put up those numbers over a 16 game season, he would have 112 catches for 2,608 yards. As it stands, even with the suspension, he’s on pace for 84 catches for 1,956 receiving yards. Posluszny and Cyprien get honorable mention.
What’s Next?- The Jaguars return home to host the San Diego Chargers looking to pick up their first win of the season.