1.) Jack Del Rio may have crossed the point of no return with this one. I will say that the team still stands behind him, vehemently defending him in post-game interviews and taking the brunt of the blame on themselves for poor execution. Everyone had the right words to say after the disappointing loss and if there’s any positive, it’s that the players still seem to believe in Del Rio and his vision for the team; when a coach has lost his players is when the season is completely doomed. This loss was stained with failures to execute and that falls on the players’ shoulders. Cecil Shorts’ poor decisions in the return game and pulling up short on the one deep pass to him (almost leading to an interception), Matt Turk’s mockery of professional football, the botched snap by Meester in the two-minute drill – those aren’t coaching failures, those are execution failures. But the problem for Del Rio is that the Jaguars are 1-4 and need a miracle to make the playoffs or improve on their record from last year (8-8). For nine seasons as the Jaguars head coach, Del Rio has a losing record, two playoff appearances, and just one playoff win. He hasn’t excelled and after the stinging loss on Sunday and the bitter endings to the ’06, ’09, and ’10 seasons, I just don’t know if Wayne Weaver can address the fans after another losing season and tell them to trust Del Rio for one more year.2.) A lot of people are signing Andy Dalton’s praises this week, but he doesn’t compare to Gabbert. Dalton had a nice command of the offense and was accurate and decisive on short throws, but I think you’re already seeing him playing near his ceiling. Dalton is somewhere between a more physically gifted Colt McCoy and a less poised Mark Sanchez and right now has the benefit of a breakout rookie wide out in the very polished A.J. Green. Blaine Gabbert is more raw, coming out of college as Junior after starting for only two years and just now turning 22 years old this week. Dalton is a full two years older and was TCU’s starter for all four years, so is justifiably more polished in his NFL rookie season. Right now, you’re seeing what you’re gonna get with Dalton – sure, he’s efficient and can move the chains, but he’s always going to need a strong running game to support him and isn’t going to be able to put games on his back and make the big play when his team needs it. Gabbert has a cannon and we’re seeing more of it week after week. One day soon, he’ll be able to put this team on his back and carry them.
3.) You gotta give credit where it’s due – this defense is playing hard. We need to see more on 3rd/4th downs and other tight situations, but they’re doing an admirable job of limiting the damage and keeping the 32nd (that’s last, folks) ranked passing game and 32nd ranked offense in the NFL in games. Things should get interesting with Aaron Kampman back in the mix this week and hopefully returning to full strength soon.
– Andrew Hofheimer