Let’s get my first prediction out of the way guys – the Jaguars will not lose this week.
Facetiousness aside, the Jaguars have provided very little to be happy about this season and particularly the last two weeks. When the best thing you can point to in a game is being tied 3-3 at halftime, there is some serious straw-grasping taking place.
Yup. Pretty much how we all feel Marcedes.
Nonetheless, there are still 11 games left this season and the Jags currently have a week off to regroup and try to fix some glaring problems across the board. With no game available this week for me to make terrible predictions, I’ll look at a few of the many problems the team currently has and whether or not they are fixable.
The Jaguars will fix their pass rush problem: FICTION
Through five games, the Jaguars only have three sacks. Only one defensive end (Austen Lane last week) has recorded a sack. As our old pal from Jaguars.com, Vic Ketchman, used to say – “Help is not on the way.” The Jaguars have expressed that their philosophy defensively is to pressure the quarterback with their traditional four-man front. This requires the defensive linemen to win their one-on-one battles and this currently isn’t happening. Jeremy Mincey in particular has been very quiet despite facing very few double teams or additional protection. Schematically, the Jaguars aren’t going to do too much to help the pass rush and unless Andre Branch turns a corner, the Jaguars pass rush is likely going to remain ineffective throughout the year.
The Jaguars will fix their run defense: FACT
This is one area where help is on the way after the bye week. Daryl Smith’s return to the lineup should provide two things: an upgrade at the outside linebacker position and some relief for middle linebacker Paul Posluszny. With Russell Allen and Kyle Bosworth in the lineup, Posluszny has seemingly been trying to do too much sideline to sideline to make up for Daryl Smith’s absence. Additionally, Terrance Knighton has to produce like has in the past at some point this season. He’s been inconsistent so far in his career but when he’s on he can be dominant. Thus far in 2012, Knighton has struggled enough to start losing a decent amount of snaps to C.J. Mosley but at some point you have to think he’ll regain some of his form.
The Jaguars will score more than 20 points in consecutive games: FICTION
Jacksonville hasn’t scored 20+ points in consecutive games since 2010. While I’m not trying to take statistics out of context and project all of our problems, it’s a stat like this that really frustrates the fans. The offense has been a problem for a long time and the unit as a whole is seemingly getting worse, not better. John Oehser on Jaguars.com has been preaching that the offense will look a lot better in December than it did in September. The offense is currently trending in the wrong direction and the only way it’s going to turn around is if the guy in the next prediction significantly improves.
Blaine Gabbert will throw for 200+ yards in consecutive games: FACT
Despite starting 19 games in his NFL career, Blaine Gabbert has thrown for more than 200 yards in consecutive games exactly zero times. Now it’s silly to simply point out one statistic out of context, but it’s perfectly reasonable to expect a functional quarterback in today’s football to consistently pass for a certain amount of yardage. The Jaguars were clearly a running team last year, but in 2012 they changed their offensive scheme to attack through the air. All of the offensive struggles certainly don’t fall on Blaine, but he’s leaving big plays on the field far too often. Over the last week or so, Head Coach Mike Mularkey has pointed out that Blaine needs to let plays develop downfield and slow down his internal clock. You have to believe this coaching staff is hammering that thought into Blaine over the bye and he should at least start attempting to hold onto the ball a little longer on drop backs.
While it’s hard to throw down the field when you’re running for your life, Gabbert needs to play better.
It’s never been harder to be a Jaguars fan. After all the progress the team seemed to make in the offseason and preseason, the fans felt like it was our time. The team’s poor performance has taken everyone locally by surprise. Much like last year, the one thing we can take solace in is that it can’t get much worse. It HAS to get better. The Jaguars have lost to 4 playoff caliber teams and competed for at least part of the game in 4 out of 5 games. The schedule has been tough and it shouldn’t be as difficult down the road. Let’s all take a deep breath and believe that the worst is over.
– Daniel Lago