Jacksonville Jaguars Progress Report: Where Things Stand Heading into Week 9

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistOctober 30, 2012

Jennings needs to break free more often.
Jennings needs to break free more often.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 1-6 on the 2012 season and in last place in the AFC South.

In Week 9, they face the Detroit Lions at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.

They rank 31st on offense, 26th on defense and 31st overall in DVOA.


Primary Talking Point for Week 9

The Jaguars put forth a gritty, hard-nosed effort against the Packers and were nearly rewarded with their second victory of the year.

Blaine Gabbert looked long effectively, and that's enough to have some fans willing to extend him more rope.

Most importantly, the defense only allowed 17 points to the vaunted Packer offense, even if the special teams surrendered an additional touchdown on a blocked punt.

The Jaguars didn't look completely lost against Green Bay and that's something to build on.


Injury Outlook

Maurice Jones-Drew and Dwight Lowery are out for Week 9.

Laurent Robinson was inactive with a concussion, but he has cleared his tests and may play this week.

Derek Cox was a scratch with a back injury, and Rashean Mathis missed the Green Bay game with a groin injury. There are no updates on their availability for the Lions.


Player on the Rise

The obvious choice this week is Gabbert, who is coming off his first career 300-yard passing day on the heels of an impressive quarter of play against the Raiders.

While there are still plenty of cringe-worthy moments mixed in, there's no question that Gabbert has shown off the arm strength that led to him being selected so high in the draft.

Gabbert still lags far behind the other top picks of his draft class and is not as advanced as the 2012 first-round picks, but there are signs that he could eventually develop into a competent quarterback.

He faces two mediocre pass defenses in a row the next two weeks, so if he can string together positive performances, there may yet be hope for him.


Feel-Good Stat of the Week

The Jaguars have won or been even in the turnover battle in five of their seven games this season. The defense hasn't forced many, but the offense has been stingy in giving up the ball.

Jacksonville has thrown just three picks on the season and that is helping it stay in games, especially on the road.

In all three road losses, the Jaguars had opportunities to win, dropping two games in overtime before having a drive to attempt to take the lead in Green Bay in the final minutes.

Winning the turnover battle is key and the Jags are doing it more often than not.


Troubling Stat of the Week


Rashad Jennings has struggled running the ball. After a strong preseason that had some fans wondering why the team needed Maurice Jones-Drew at all, Jennings has been a disaster since the season started.

His yards per carry has now dropped below three. While he's been an effective receiver, Jacksonville has little hope of winning as long as Jones-Drew misses time.

For all the big yardage numbers posted by Gabbert last week, the team only scored 15 points, in part because Jennings couldn't get going on the ground and had a fumble.


Overall Trend: Steady

We can quibble over how encouraged the Jaguars should be over the close loss in Green Bay, but at least things don't feel like they are getting worse this week.

They face a mediocre Lions team at home in Week 9, and if there was ever a good chance for the Jags to grab momentum, it's now.

If they can snag a victory over Detroit and then hold serve at home against the Indianapolis Colts, they'll have gone a long way toward appeasing an increasingly angry fanbase.

This is the point of no return for the Gene Smith era. If there are no tangible results over the next nine days, it's difficult to imagine any scenario in which he keeps his job after the season.


    Woman in Reuben Foster Case Recants Domestic Violence Claim

    NFL logo

    Woman in Reuben Foster Case Recants Domestic Violence Claim

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report

    Reggie Bush: Barkley More NFL-Ready Than I Was

    NFL logo

    Reggie Bush: Barkley More NFL-Ready Than I Was

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report

    Report: Packers Among Teams Trying to Move Up

    NFL logo

    Report: Packers Among Teams Trying to Move Up

    Adam Wells
    via Bleacher Report

    A Reality Check on the Draft's Top Players

    Jacksonville Jaguars logo
    Jacksonville Jaguars

    A Reality Check on the Draft's Top Players

    Mike Freeman
    via Bleacher Report