There are a lot of reasons to feel the sting of today’s loss. For the second time in a span of three games (all losses, obviously), the Jaguars have pitted rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert against another starting rookie quarterback and ended the game with a harrowing loss that’s left us all shaking our heads. There were many similarities to the game in Carolina two weeks ago with the defense playing very well, the offense looking extremely tentative, special teams doing everything they could to give the game away, and ultimately, giving up a late touchdown to lose the lead and watching our two-minute offense fall short in disastrous fashion. In Carolina, the players and head coach took responsibility for the mistakes and failures. They pledged to make corrections moving forward. Two games where the Jaguars out-played their opponent and two games that should have been wins, squandered in the final minutes. What’s especially frustrating is that a 3-2 record would be good for tops in the AFC South right now, placing the Jaguars firmly in the action for the division crown. Blame the rookie, blame the coach, blame the punter…but corrections have not been made. Where do the Jaguars turn next?
It’d be remiss to say there weren’t some encouraging signs from yesterday’s game: the defense completely shut down Cincinnati’s running game, the defensive line dominated the LOS for much of the game and registered two sacks, and the saving grace of the 2011 season thus far, Blaine Gabbert, continues to improve each week (despite still being quite raw). But today is not a day for positives and the bright side – because today sucks. Today, the Jaguars faithful has taken yet another brutal hit, grabbed by the shirt collar and punched in the gut four straight times, and left curled-up in a dark alleyway, mugged and broken. There was so much to be hopeful for going into the season: the defense was infused with free agent talent, GM Gene’s draft picks of ’09 and ’10 were supposed to be hitting their stride, and the quarterback position seemed solidified in both the present and for the future. Who thought that with our signature running game and an improved defense that we couldn’t ride the David Garrard roller coaster to the playoffs one last time? So many of the preseason postulates have come crashing down and to top it off, the scapegoats have been completely detestable. Matt Turk is a man who should be fearing for his safety in Jacksonville right now and probably won’t have a job next Sunday. Jack Del Rio is going to be blamed for poor gameplanning, non-existent adjustments at the half, and not having his team prepared to run a two-minute drill. The refs screwed us against the Panthers. The front office is crazy and ruthless for cutting Garrard right before the regular season. Luke McCown shouldn’t be allowed in an NFL stadium…
It’s all there to point fingers at and pointing fingers makes fans feel better. It’s what we do and we aren’t expected or required to be above finger pointing. But the Jaguars do not have that luxury. They need to diagnose these problems and fix them. They need to do some soul-searching and find ways to be better – the players at executing and the coaches with coaching and gameplanning. Everyone connected to the Jaguars right now is reeling, but we all know that winning changes the tune in a hurry.
The Jaguars have to find a way to win. Quickly.
– Andrew Hofheimer