Jacksonville Jaguars: Thoughts on Week 1 Loss to the Minnesota Vikings

David LevinSenior Writer IISeptember 9, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 9: Cecil Shorts #84 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates with teammates Blaine Gabbert #11 and Montell Owens #24 after scoring a touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings during NFL opening day September 9, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Jaguars 26-23 in overtime. (Photo by Andy King/Getty Images)
Andy King/Getty Images

If you looked at the stats from the Jacksonville Jaguars' game against the Minnesota Vikings, you would think Jaguars second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert had a good game.

Any time a quarterback throws for 260 yards and two scores—especially in light of criticism similar to that which Gabbert took during the 2011 season and this offseason—you would say those are pretty good stats.

Think again.

Even with several missed opportunities, a missed extra point and a defense that was in need of better run-stoppage in the red zone, the Jaguars still could have won the game.

Could have is the primary focus.

And after a 26-23 loss at the hands of the Vikings on the road, Jacksonville now comes home to play the Houston Texans and their superior offense and defense.

When you have chances to rack up early-season wins and gain momentum, you need to jump on them.

The Jaguars were not able to do that.

What we saw Sunday was a team that took a step forward on offense and showed the passing game is “better” but not great and a defense which was ranked sixth overall in the NFL last season take a step backward.

Gabbert was hit repeatedly from his back side. The offensive line needs to show improvement in Houston against a pass rush that could cause Gabbert nightmares.

Just ask the Dolphins.

But, there are positives to take from this game. (Yes, I said positives.)

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew returned to the lineup after a 38-day holdout to run for 77 yards. Although he did not score, he gave the team a much-needed boost when he replaced Rashad Jennings.

If he looks this good after only a week of practice, then he should be a dynamo again this year.

Also, the team found out how good Cecil Shorts can be. The second-year receiver caught four passes, for 74 yards and a touchdown. And, the team proved that signing Laurent Robinson was one of the better moves of the offseason.

Robinson, maligned in the local media and on sports-talk radio because he was invisible at times in the preseason, caught five passes, for 66 yards.

Yes, the Jaguars offense, although there were missed scoring opportunities, looks better.

The defense, however, needs to show more ability. The loss of starting linebacker Daryl Smith did not help. This team will have to tighten up when Arian Foster and Ben Tate come to town.

Allowing Adrian Peterson to run for two scores on a surgically repaired knee that wasn't 100 percent proves changes and work are needed.

The Jaguars play the Texans at EverBank Field next week at home.