Jacksonville Jaguars Progress Report: Where Things Stand Heading into Week 14

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistDecember 5, 2012

It feels like Alualu has been trampled as often as he's made plays.
It feels like Alualu has been trampled as often as he's made plays.Bob Levey/Getty Images

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

In Week 14, they play the New York Jets at Everbank Field.

The Jaguars rank 30th on offense, 28th on defense and 30th overall in DVOA.


Primary Focus for the Rest of 2012

The Jaguars have less to build on than any team in the NFL.

At nearly every position on the field, they lack elite talent. They have a couple of interesting wideouts and some good individual pieces, but theirs is a roster lacking cohesion or coherent philosophy.

Unlike division-rival Tennessee, the Jaguars can't even make the rest of this season about quarterback development.

Even the task of roster evaluation seems perfunctory. With general manager Gene Smith unlikely to survive the season, it's not like most of the in-house evaluations of talent matter all that much. Someone else is likely to come on board and wipe the slate clean anyway.

For the players and coaches, the only thing they have left to play for is pride and auditions for new jobs, likely in other cities.

There's still some hope that coach Mike Mularkey and staff could save their jobs with a 3-1 finish, but even that seems like a long-shot now.


Injury Outlook

Injuries continue to pile up for the Jaguars.

There's still no word on when or if Maurice Jones-Drew will return and you can add Cecil Shorts, Austen Lane, Rashad Jennings, Aaron Ross and Derek Cox to the list of questionables for the Jets game.

With little on the line, expect more and more Jags to get shut down for the year.


Player on the Spot

Tyson Alualu simply hasn't become the player Smith envisioned. He's much closer to the player most draft scouts thought he was.

It was a controversial move to select a late first-round talent 10th overall, and it simply hasn't paid off.

Alualu now has just eight sacks in three years and hasn't become a disruptive force.

He's not a bad player at all. He's a quality run defender, but simply isn't effective at rushing the passer.

Defenders of Alualu and Smith will claim that a knee injury suffered in Jack Del Rio's inane "Oklahoma" drill has hampered his effectiveness.

Whether or not that's true, judging the pick by production, there's no question the Jaguars overpaid for a solid but not great player.


Stat to Build On

When a team is tied for the worst record in the NFL, there isn't much that has gone right.

The one bright spot for the Jaguars has been turnover differential. The Jags are dead even on the season, having lost and forced 18.

When it comes to turnovers lost and forced, Jacksonville is in the middle of the pack in both categories.

For a team in the bottom five of most everything else, mediocre isn't half bad.


Stat That Must Improve in 2013

The Jaguars are 30th in the NFL in net yards per attempt.

Most of that can be traced to the hilariously bad play of Blaine Gabbert. Chad Henne has been a full yard per drop back better, without being exactly elite himself.

The NFL is a passing league, and if Jacksonville is going to become competitive, they simply have to develop an efficient passing game.


Coaching Watch

The conventional wisdom a week ago was that Smith was almost assuredly gone, but Mularkey could possibly save his job.

An embarrassing outing in Buffalo dimmed those hopes considerably.

Whenever a new GM comes to town, any existing staff are in danger of being replaced. 

Mularkey is a good man and is well regarded around the league, so with a strong finish, he can credibly claim that Gabbert sank his season.

If the Jaguars have another embarrassing performance, however, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to make that argument.