Could the rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars season rest on the backside of their starting quarterback?
According to the Florida Times-Union article written by Vito Stellino, Gabbert will be limited this week in practice, but is expected to be the starter when they travel to play the Colts.
“Gabbert suffered the injury, which Mularkey had speculated might be a hamstring issue, while being sacked by Houston’s J.J. Watt early in the fourth quarter. Gabbert stayed in for two more plays, then left the game and did not return.” the story states.
Gabbert’s injury was not the only reason for concern by head coach Mike Mularkey and the rest of the Jaguars staff and management. While the team was impressive in preseason play, the Jaguars have jumped out to an 0-2 start on the regular season, where their offense looked good one week against the Minnesota Vikings (a 26-23 loss in OT) and then looked like a group of junior varsity high school players against the Texans (a 27-7 loss).
Even with a ground game that saw Maurice Jones-Drew average five yards a carry (12 carries for 60 yards), the running attack was a non-factor and the passing game was as inept as any game the team has played in its 17 years of existence.
“This is his 16th start in the National Football League as a 22-year-old man, and he’s going to have some learning curves every week, especially to have some consistent success.” Mularkey said.
While Mularkey conceded that it was only one game that forced the Jaguars to the bottom of the offensive rankings in the NFL, he thinks there are things the team needs to improve upon to right the ship, especially in the passing attack. Nonexistent from the passing game has been the play of rookie receiver Justin Blackmon, who had only three catches in the first two games after looking like an All-Pro performer in the preseason.
Also we have an already weary offensive line, which has been decimated by injuries and was much maligned by J.J. Watt and the other Texans defenders last Sunday.
Mularkey also spent Monday defending the play and production of Gabbert, citing that the receivers for the team needed to do a better job of running their routes in the offensive game plan.
“As he gets more experience inside, I think he’s going to get better, but that’s a great teaching tool,” Mularkey said in the interview with the Times-Union.
If we don't see some significant improvement soon, the Jaguars should be worried about what lies ahead. The poor showing from the offense against the Texans, and the current ranking of 23rd overall in total defense, may raise some questions whether the right personnel decisions were made during the off season.
While the team spent money to bring in Laurent Robinson, a wide receiver from Dallas, and drafted Blackmon out of Oklahoma State, there are still needs on the offensive side.
The offensive line has to give Gabbert the time he needs to make effective decisions in the pocket. Offensively, the Jaguars were out-gained by the Texans 411-117 for the entire game. Defensively, there is potential, but they have no interceptions as of yet, and the pass rush has only two sacks this year so far.
If the team is to make a leap back into the consciousness of the playoff picture, they must find a way to put points on the board early and often against the Colts, and tackle better from the defensive side of the ball. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck won his first NFL game last week, so the momentum and excitement in Indianapolis is a lot higher than the current progression of the Jaguars.
“I’m anxious to see how we respond to really taking a good punch from a good opponent,” Mularkey said in the Stellino article. “I think this locker room will do a good job of that. A tough lesson learned.”
Jaguars fans will just have to wait and see.