The River City Report: Week One
By Lionel Joel
The Jaguars’ loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week One will be a tough one to deal with for a while. Although there were definitely highlights, promising improvements, and overall a lot to be excited about, the Vikings are seemingly one of the weaker opponents on the Jaguars’ 2012 schedule. You never want to read too much into the first game of the season, win or lose, but I believe the Jags needed to leave Minnesota with a victory. Here is what we saw from the black and teal in their 26-23 OT loss:
-Line play: The Jaguars got pushed around on both sides of the ball. The offensive line experienced their annual rash of injuries throughout the game, which crumbled what little congruity they might have developed in their short time together as a unit. The Vikings had a consistent push on the interior of the line throughout the game and that needs to be fixed moving forward. Conversely, the defensive line was having trouble getting to quarterback Christian Ponder on a regular basis and running back Adrian Peterson averaged nearly five yards per carry and scored two touchdowns. The Jags still have to play Arian Foster and Chris Johnson twice this season so the defensive front will have their work cut out for them if the team is to win its divisional games.
-All aboard the Blaine train: Like coaches predicted and Jacksonville fans hoped, quarterback Blaine Gabbert showed marked improvement from last year. It was only one game, but Gabbert looked poised and confident in the pocket. It was noticeable progress from his rookie campaign and a great sign heading into the rest of the season. Gabbert’s 58% completion percentage is right where it needs to be and his few overthrows will likely dissipate with more experience with the receiving corp. Hopefully the Blaine haters will realize that he can be a solid NFL quarterback now that he is better prepared for the season and there are improved weapons on offense.
-Details, details, details!: A shanked extra point. A slight overthrow of a wide open Justin Blackmon in the end zone. Blown coverage allowing Devin Aromashodu to pick up 26 yards in the closing seconds of regulation. If any of these things were tightened up and executed properly, the Jags would likely be arriving home with a victory. These little mistakes expose the Jaguars as a team not quite ready to become a force. They are a young team looking for its identity. There is still time to find it in 2012, but until they do, expect similar results moving forward.