Oct 25, 2013; London, United Kingdom, USA; General view of a shirt at Niketown London promoting the NFL International Series game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hangin' Tough

What a season it’s been so far. We’re almost to the half way point of 2013 and the Jacksonville Jaguars have yet to win a game.

The Jags have spent all week across the pond. This Sunday they will take on the San Francisco 49ers. Is it just me or do the Jags have an extremely difficult schedule?

The 49ers will present yet another stiff challenge for Bradley and the boys. Kaepernick and the Super Bowl runners up had a somewhat “rocky” start according to the experts and the high expectations coming off a season where Kaepernick took the NFL world by storm, but don’t let that fool you. At 5-2 the 49ers are still one of the best teams in the NFL. It seems that Jacksonville has played quite a few of these top tier teams in 2013. The Chiefs, Broncos, Seahawks, division rival Colts, even the Chargers and the resurgent Phillip Rivers have all taken turns using the Jaguars as a pigskin punching bag.

Oct 20, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) with head coach Jim Harbaugh during warm ups prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Kaepernick is a pocket passer with a cannon arm who can also “beat you with his legs” as they say.When he’s not looking for his chicken nuggets with Joe Flacco, Kaepernick likes to spend his time doing commercials with Russell Wilson and also being an explosively good QB. Frank Gore will always present a problem carrying the mail and Vernon Davis has been extremely dominant in the passing game. Anquan Boldin started off hot, but has cooled off since. Behind Boldin and Davis are a slew of unheralded young receivers, but really and truly this offense begins and ends with Kaerpenick. Kaepernick is a one man play making machine. The Jags defense hasn’t stopped the run very well (or stopped much of anything) so look for Frank Gore and maybe even Kendall Hunter to get in on the fun.

All of this aside, this has been a very big week for the Jaguars. This is a small market team who has spent all week in London, schmoozing with the locals and playing the part of ambassadors for the NFL. Whenever a small market team plays a game in Wembley, talks about that said team making London their new home tend to run rampant, but that hasn’t been the case this year. This is a great opportunity for Khan to make a good impression on a world stage. It’s fantastic exposure for the team and brings more meaning to the phrase “bold new city of the South.” Speaking of bold…

Bradley continues to say that the quarterback position is an ongoing competition as it is with all positions. I’m an advocate of competition throughout the roster, but I believe we’ve seen the last of Gabbert starting at QB barring a Chad Henne injury.

It’s not so much that Henne has been so good that Bradley has no choice but to start him. It’s the fact that Gabbert has been so bad. I don’t exactly know what happened to Gabbert. He was a top 10 talent in the 2011 draft, and not just according to mastermind ex-GM Gene Smith. It’s not like Smith was the only guy who considered Gabbert a 1st round prospect. Maybe he was rushed. Maybe he just walked into a bad situation. Maybe he just didn’t have the mental toughness that people like Michael Lombardi constantly criticized. In the end (which make no mistake this is the end for Gabbert in Jacksonville), Henne just flat out gives Jacksonville a better chance to win right now. He can at least move the offense, make the open throws and get our receivers involved.

Speaking of receivers, how exciting is Justin Blackmon? It’s amazing how much one player can change an offense. Yeah, yeah I know he only had 6 catches for 58 yards last week, but it’s only because defenses are beginning to pay him more attention. We might see a similar regression this week, but it’s good for the young player. He has to learn to beat double coverage. Blackmon has the physicality to be that guy to catch the ball from anywhere on the field and the strength to break free and gain major YAC.

There is a very good chance that the Jaguars will suffer yet another double digit loss. Don’t say I’m “being negative.” Anyone who has watched a Jaguars game this season knows this is nothing but a simple dose of reality. Hang tough, Jacksonville faithful. The future has not yet arrived. Keep an eye on this young roster Sunday and see who will be a part of that future once it does make its grand entrance.

-David R. Johns

 

Tags: Chad Henne Colin Kaepernick Jacksonville Jaguars Justin Blackmon San Francisco 49ers

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