The River City Report: Week 2
By Lionel Joel
After a close game that ended in an overtime loss to the Vikings, most people around the Jaguars felt good about the overall performance of the team, or at least as good as you can feel after a loss. We were all anxious to see if the team could build on the offensive momentum the team seemed to be building over the preseason and into week one. We also wanted to see what adjustments the defense would make in the wake of a poor performance in Minnesota stopping the run and overall tackling. The only adjustment seemed to be benching Blaine Gabbert in the closing minutes of the game. After watching the Jaguars lose its home opener 27-7 against the Houston Texans, it’s hard to imagine if any adjustments can help the team this season.
While it is true that the Texans are much, much better than the Vikings, it is no excuse for rolling over and letting the Texans have their way with the Jags. The defense looked confused and overmatched. The offense looked very out-of-sync and ill-prepared. Hopefully this game will be a wakeup call for the men in teal and allow them to band together and get to work. Here is what we saw in the Jaguars’ Week 2 loss to the Texans:
-The defense lacks swagger – It is hard to pinpoint the exact reason, but the defense looked defeated before the end of the first quarter, waving their white jerseys in the air as a sign of surrender. In his second NFL game, rookie defensive end Andre Branch was an absolute non-factor from the first Houston snap. The rest of the defensive line was not much better. The linebacking corp with the exception of Paul Posluszny seemed to lack the ability to tackle anyone wearing a blue jersey. The same goes for defensive backs like Aaron Ross who looked like he was more worried about messing up his uniform than making a tackle. The score could have been much worse if the Texans hadn’t relaxed so much about midway through the third quarter. The defensive group as a whole seemed to be void of any confidence or aggressiveness. Mel Tucker better step up and get this group moving in the right direction soon.
-The offensive line is miserable – As the injury bug makes its way around the offensive line unit once again, it makes me wonder if Blaine Gabbert will become another David Carr. We have seen Gabbert play well and we know he is improving stepping into the pocket when pressure is on, but when there is pressure on every play, it’s hard to blame him for dumping the ball off to a running back or tight end. Eugene Monroe did an excellent job against Jared Allen in Week One, but the Texans have multiple pass rushers and Monroe can’t be everywhere. The injury excuse is wearing thin. While it means that our best options may not be there, this happens seemingly every year and something has to change. Get better trainers or get healthier linemen but we have to get better up front. Every team has injuries and every player on our sideline is a professional football player. It’s not like we are pulling our backups from local high schools. Gabbert was under nonstop pressure yesterday and didn’t even attempt a pass to a wide receiver until late in the game. When he did have time it resulted in a beautiful pass deep down the field to Laurent Robinson that split two defensive backs and led to the Jags only touchdown.
-Brian Anger might actually be our best player – It pains me to admit it, but the Jaguars did a great job when they drafted Brian Anger in the third round. While I will forever believe we could have drafted an every down player instead, he is living up to the hype and for a team that punts nine times a game, it’s nice to know the punter is a potentially great one.
I am putting Gene Smith on notice today, Monday the 17th, 2012. We have heard the same thing over and over. “We’re young.” “We’re rebuilding.” “We must stick to the plan.” When your team wins about 25% of its games year after year, you aren’t rebuilding, you just suck. That’s what the Jags are turning into, a team that sucks. We have changed owners, coaches, and quarterbacks. We have bought into the same excuses and empty promises for years. If the Jaguars’ 2012 season continues the way it has played out through two weeks, there is only one more thing to change, Mr. Smith.