Jacksonville Jaguars State of the Union: Where They Stand at the Halfway Point
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2012 has been a nightmare beyond what anyone could have foreseen for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
They are currently 1-7 and heading downhill fast.
Here's a review of the first half.
Back in April, I predicted the Jaguars to finish the first half of the season at 2-6. Instead, they went 1-7. They dropped what should have been a winnable game at home to the mediocre Bengals but won on the road in Indianapolis.
The Jaguars offense is every bit as bad as I expected, but I did think they'd get better defensive work than they have.
The Football Outsiders pegged them for a defensive DVOA of negative-1.4 percent, an offensive DVOA of negative-17.1 percent and an overall DVOA of negative-12.4 percent. They were slated for 6.5 estimated wins.
In other words, the Jaguars have been worse on both sides of the ball than projected, and the result is a team unlikely to meet even the most modest of expectations.
It doesn't get easier than this.
Jacksonville stunned Indianapolis on the strength of an 80-yard bomb from Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts in the final minute of play. The 22-17 victory is still the only tally in the W column for the 2012 Jaguars.
This is a complicated category, but blowing a three-point lead with 20 seconds to play has to take the cake.
The Jaguars dumped a 26-23 decision to the Vikings in overtime in Week 1. Despite taking the lead on a 39-yard Gabbert-to-Shorts bomb in the waning seconds, the Jacksonville defense couldn't keep Christian Ponder from setting up a game-tying field-goal attempt.
The loss seemed to push the season spiraling out of control. The team has yet to recover from the tailspin.
The baseline for Justin Blackmon was 40 catches, 600 yards and five touchdowns. He's been a major disappointment, ranking as the least effective receiver in football. He does have 23 catches for 233 yards and a score, meaning his rookie baseline is still attainable.
Andre Branch has also been something of a disappointment. His baseline was 20-30 tackles and three to four sacks. Currently, he has just seven tackles and a sack.
The Jaguars used a third-round pick on punter Bryan Anger. He's been solid but probably not worth the lofty draft position. The Jaguars are seventh in net punting average and ninth in overall average.
While not bad production, to merit such a high pick, Anger would have to be a top three to five punter. He's clearly not.
As "everything" isn't an option, the best answer is the play of Blackmon.
Regardless of what the future holds for Gabbert, Blackmon will be with the Jaguars even if there is a regime change. He must establish himself as part of the future.
He has earned the ire of fans for sloppy routes, an inability to get open and an on-field demeanor some interpret as disinterested.
In the second half of the season, he needs to display flashes of the ability that made the Jaguars fall in love with him.
This is difficult, because there is almost nothing going right for the Jaguars.
If regression can be interpreted positively, the defense simply ought to play better in the second half.
Injuries have made for a long year, but it feels like there is too much talent there for them to be so bad.
The Jags have just four home games left, but one is against the New England Patriots.
If they don't beat the Colts, three wins becomes a ceiling.
At this point, the Jaguars look to be a lock for a top-three pick in the 2013 draft and will likely have a new general manager—and possibly a new coach and quarterback as well.
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