Even ugly gets a second look.
The Jaguars' numerous flaws were on full display against the Bengals, and the result was a second consecutive embarrassing loss at home.
Here's what the tape showed.
The Real Story
The Jaguars don't have anyone on their roster like A.J. Green.
In short, that sums it up.
Defensively, the Jags weren't horrible, but couldn't contain Green. Of course, they also didn't make a point to put Derek Cox on him the entire game like they should have.
Offensively, the line was ridiculously bad. By now, everyone knows that Eben Britton was benched, but it did little to stem the tide of the Bengals pass rush.
Of course, even when Blaine Gabbert had time to throw, he struggled to find open receivers down field, and too frequently checked down for short gains.
The Bengals aren't a great team. They may not even be a good team. They have glaring holes all over the field.
But they are considerably more talented than Jacksonville right now.
Eugene Monroe were very good at left tackle, but unfortunately the solid play from the line begins and ends there.
Jeremy Mincey had the biggest play of the game when he forced a fumble at the goal line. Jacksonville was trailing 17-7, and Mincey's play kept them in the game long enough for another long drive.
With Gene Smith taking heat from all sides, his selection of Gabbert is going to go down as the one that hung him. Gabbert is demonstrably inferior to both Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton who were selected after him. The fact that J.J. Watt was taken by Houston with the pick after Gabbert is perhaps the most embarrassing truth of all.
The evidence of improvement is still there from the preseason, but the chasm from terrible to serviceable is likely just too steep. Gabbert doesn't appear to have the necessary tools to be a viable NFL starter.
Dalton does have Green, it's true, but he also did a better job reading the defense, moving in the pocket and making throws. Dalton is what Gabbert should be by now but isn't.
Smith is the real goat here. He has consistently made the wrong choices in the draft and free agency and has built a roster without the necessary difference-makers to have a winning team.
Fans and announcers often confuse completion percentage for accuracy.
Gabbert had a good completion percentage against Cincinnati, but that was a function of the depth of his throws. He was not accurate.
Perhaps the clinching play of the game with 3:50 to play in the third quarter. Jacksonville faced a 3rd-and-6 from the Bengals' eight-yard line.
Gabbert hit Kevin Elliott for a five-yard gain, leaving the Jaguars a yard short of the first down.
In this case, the decision to throw short was perfectly justifiable, as Elliot had room to pick up the extra yard.
Gabbert took light pressure up the middle and his mechanics crumbled. He fell backward as he threw, and delivered the ball at Elliot's knees. It was a completed pass, but an inaccurate throw.
Jacksonville settled for a field goal to cut the lead to 17-10 and never threatened again.
Mike Mularkey had no business settling for the aforementioned field goal. Sometimes this coaching staff seems so intent on creating "positive experiences" for the offense that they forget to try to win the game.
Would it have been deflating for the Jaguars to drive down field only to get stopped inside the five? Obviously.
Was it equally deflating to drive down field only to kick a field goal on 4th-and-1? Obviously.
Mularkey made a good call to try and move the ball at the end of the first half. He deserves credit for that.
Perhaps the biggest tactical error was not ensuring that Cox shadowed Green the entire day. It did not appear the Jaguars gameplanned to take Green out of the game.
Keep an Eye On
Once again, the Jaguars have a sub-elite opponent playing in Jacksonville in Week 5. Chicago is coming off Monday Night Football.
If the Jaguars can't come up with a credible performance, watch for the winds of change to howl.
There's no reason to think that Chad Henne will help this team, as he was terrible in the preseason. If the Jaguars even consider a quarterback switch, it will be a sign that utter desperation has set in.
Gabbert is not the answer in Jacksonville, but he's the only answer they have right now.
The Bears have a stout defense and love to rush the passer, so Gabbert will be lucky to make it out alive even if he remains the starter.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!