Jacksonville Jaguars: The Biggest Early-Season Storylines for Week 3

Vaughn JohnsonCorrespondent IISeptember 19, 2012

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Biggest Early-Season Storylines for Week 3

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    It's only been two games, but it's been yet another rough start for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012.

    After showing signs of progress during an overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, the Jaguars seemingly fell back down to earth and looked like the same five-win team from 2011 after a 27-7 beatdown at the hands of the Houston Texans.

    Whether that can be attributed to the prowess of the Texans or the lack of ability on the Jaguars roster, it was not pretty.

    Although some may see the same old stories from a season ago, there are some interesting issues coming out of the first two games that will be worth keeping an eye on moving forward.

The Progression of Blaine Gabbert

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    Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert didn't look to progress much after throwing for only 53 yards against the Texans, but some of that could be attributed to the Texans defense being among the best in the league.

    Not many quarterbacks have good days against Houston. Perhaps none have struggled as much as Gabbert, but it's certainly not easy to move the ball against this Texans team.

    That being said, this story is of the utmost importance to the Jaguars and their fans. This has been the story throughout the offseason and it continues after two games. 

    Excluding his performance this past Sunday, Gabbert has shown some ability to be at least a solid starting quarterback. 

    Hopefully, the effects of the butt-kicking (pun fully intended) that Gabbert took against the Texans will not linger against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3.

    Part of being a quarterback is having a short memory. His performance in Week 2 will be one he will certainly look to forget.

How Long Is the Leash on Blaine Gabbert?

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    If Gabbert continues to perform like he did on Sunday, it wouldn't be wrong to question how long head coach Mike Mularkey will tolerate his growing pains. 

    Mularkey, in fact, sought the services of backup Chad Henne for exactly this sort of scenario. 

    Unfortunately, Henne showed very little during the preseason to make anyone believe that he would be a serviceable starter. Having said that, he did complete both of his passes against Houston for 23 yards.

    Does he have some momentum? I doubt it.

    Mularkey is giving Gabbert a fair chance to cement his place as the starter. However, if he sees any more performances like this past Sunday, Mularkey will more than likely give him a fair chance to watch from the bench.

The Lack of Production from the Defense

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    It's not all that surprising to see the Jaguars offense struggling. However, it is surprising to see the defense having a hard time stopping opposing offenses.

    The defense was supposed to be something the team could hang its hat on to keep games close, but it has been the opposite.

    In Week 1, the offense made plays when it had to. Meanwhile, the defense allowed the Vikings to drive down the field for the game-tying field goal that sent the game to overtime.

    Against the Texans, the unit allowed 411 yards, including 216 yards on the ground.

    One of my keys for the Jaguars to overcome the Texans was to make them one-dimensional and force Matt Schaub to beat them. Obviously, the Jags failed to do that.

    After two weeks, the defense ranks 23rd in the league. The Jaguars are giving up an average of 400 yards per game, and are 31st in the league against the run, giving up an average of 169.5 yards per game.

The Production of Bryan Anger

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    For better or for worse, Bryan Anger had plenty of chances to show off his big leg against the Texans.

    Anger punted nine times for 462 yards, which results in an average of 51 yards per punt. 

    He is currently second in the league in average yards per punt with 52.6, sixth in net average at 43.5 and seventh in the league in punts that landed inside the 20-yard line with four.

    Although the Jaguars were deservedly ridiculed and mocked for taking a punter in the third round, it looks like they got a great one in the process.

    It's not necessarily a good thing, but Anger has been the best player for the Jaguars so far.

Have the Jaguars Improved from Last Season?

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    I don't know how many Jaguars fans expected the team to go to the playoffs, but the vast majority did expect to see some improvement from last season.

    While the playoffs are not completely out of the question after only two games, they will certainly have to play better against teams like Houston in order to even compete for a spot.

    The Jags showed improvement against the Vikings, but still lost to a team that will more than likely be out of it by November. 

    The Jags didn't look like they belonged on the same field as the Texans this past Sunday.

    Head coach Mike Mularkey's seat is nowhere near hot yet, but he was brought in to turn things around in Jacksonville. 

    Starting 0-2 after an embarrassing defeat to Houston was not a part of that turnaround.