Jacksonville Jaguars Progress Report: Where Things Stand Heading into Week 13

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistNovember 27, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 25:   Justin Blackmon #14 of the Jacksonville Jaguars rushes for yardage during the game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field on November 25, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 2-9 on the 2012 season and in last place in the AFC South.

In Week 13, they travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium to take on the Buffalo Bills

They rank 30th on offense, 27th on defense and 30th overall in DVOA.


Primary Talking Point for Week 13

They won.

After a season of misery, who cares about anything else at this point?

Yes, there are still all the same long-term issues still facing the franchise that existed a week ago, but after a happy Sunday and an after-glow Monday, who cares about the future.

For the Jaguars, just winning a home game feels pretty good.

Now, the focus shifts toward Buffalo, and if the team can string together positive performances, suddenly, things will look a whole lot brighter.


Injury Outlook

Maurice Jones-Drew is still likely to miss at least one more game with a foot injury.

Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union posted Mike Mularkey's updates on the other injured players:

Cornerback Derek Cox (hamstring) will be evaluated as the week goes on, fullback Greg Jones (thigh) will have his activity increased and cornerback Aaron Ross (dehydration) will practice on Wednesday.

Cornerback Will Middleton has not passed his concussion test. Gabbert was scheduled to have left shoulder surgery on Monday.

Mularkey heaped praise on running back Jalen Parmele for playing through a groin injury that forced him to leave the game twice and leaves him “questionable” for the Buffalo game.


Player on the Rise

Henne went from "the guy who couldn't beat out Gabbert" to "potential 2013 starter" in the span of one game, then followed that up with a win at home.

Rises don't come any steeper than that.

Henne has had roughly a third of the throws of Gabbert, so there's still time for his sample size to normalize, but the early returns are strong.

Henne is clearly getting the ball downfield more than Gabbert ever did, though he's taking just as many if not more sacks.

He has five weeks to win the job for 2013. He doesn't have to be outstanding; he only has to be competent.


Feel-Good Stat of the Week

For most of the year, Justin Blackmon was the worst-rated receiver in the NFL by DVOA.

With just two weeks of playing with Henne, he's moved up considerably all the way to 67th after bottoming out in the mid-80s.

Blackmon leads all rookie wideouts in yards and is third in receptions. His per-catch average of 14.4 is strong considering the time he played with Gabbert.

Most importantly, he looked active and physical against Tennessee.

The development of Blackmon is more important to the Jaguars' future than whoever wins the quarterback battle between Henne and Gabbert.


Troubling Stat of the Week

The Jaguars are last in the NFL in first downs produced.

They are 31st in opponent's first downs produced.

Add that together, and the result is 2-9.


Overall Trend: Rising

Taking down the Titans at home may not mean much to a lot of teams, but for Jacksonville, it's progress.

Without Gabbert to shoulder the criticism, the Jags now have a five-game audition for the players and coaches.

If Jacksonville can finish a respectable 3-2 over the that stretch, Mularkey will at least have a credible argument that he's not to blame for the apocalypse that was the first 10 weeks of 2012. Gabbert will become the scapegoat, and the team will move on.

However, if Jacksonville returns to form and the Jags drop more winnable games, it will be clear that the real issues go much deeper than just one man.

If that's the case, look for a whole house cleaning in Jacksonville at the end of the year.


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