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What We Learned: Colts 37, Jaguars 3

Posted Sep 30, 2013

What We Learned from the Jaguars’ 37-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday.

JACKSONVILLE – Here’s what we learned from the Jaguars’ 37-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday . . .

 

1. Gus Bradley’s not just about “competition”  . . . The Jaguars’ head coach is still very much about that. Don’t look for his message to change. The idea of competing to get better every day is core to his belief system, and core to how this franchise will build. But he made it clear on Sunday that it’s not enough to compete. You have to execute. That’s not exactly novel, but it’s the first time Bradley has emphasized it after a loss. The Jaguars haven’t executed well enough this season, and they sure didn’t Sunday.

2. . . . and he’s not always happy, either. This could have been a co-No. 1 this week, because just as Bradley made it clear Sunday it’s not enough to compete, he also made it clear he wasn’t satisfied with the performance Sunday. He said he will remain positive, and he almost certainly will because this is a building process, but he also made it clear Sunday that mistakes and avoidable penalties won’t be tolerated and that accountability will be a big issue moving forward.

3. Blaine Gabbert still has pocket issues . . . This isn’t about being scared in the pocket. You started hearing about that on Twitter and in the email inbox again Sunday. It’s not about fear, but with that out of the way, it did appear that Gabbert moved out of the pocket too often Sunday before it was necessary. Pocket presence – being able to buy time with the eyes downfield – is key, and it’s an area in which Gabbert appeared to struggle Sunday.

4. . . . and Gabbert still needs to overcome adversity better . . . Gabbert actually started out playing pretty well Sunday – not at a Pro Bowl level, but better. The first two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, weren’t his fault, with Cecil Shorts III having a chance to catch each. He also appeared to play freer and take more chances downfield. But once the Jaguars got behind there were again too many consecutive possessions on which the offense just didn’t function. Part of the responsibility there is quarterback.

5. . . . But it ain’t all Gabbert. It’s easy to criticize the quarterback after a 37-3 loss, and no doubt Gabbert took and deserved a lot of the responsibility. But Gabbert appeared to be throwing well and with confidence in the first quarter, until dropped passes and penalties conspired to hurt him and the Jaguars. Gabbert didn’t play well, but as too often has been the case, he was further brought down by mistakes from those around him.

6. The run offense is an issue. Maurice Jones-Drew had no room. He also didn’t do much with the room he did have. The Jaguars averaged 2.2 yards per carry. Whatever the other issues, that’s one, too.

7. Gabbert is going to keep starting. Bradley said after the game he still believes in Gabbert. He’s going to start for the foreseeable future.

8. The roster has a lot of holes. Let’s not sugarcoat this. The Jaguars twice in the last half-decade have started over and begun rebuilding. When that happens, veterans get released in the name of rebuilding the roster. When that happens, you have young players playing who need to gain experience, and that’s not always an easy process.

9. Cecil Shorts III is still young . . . Shorts wants to be a No. 1 receiver, and he’s very good. He showed last season he is capable of making big plays, and he has shown this year at times he has potential to be a No. 1 receiver. But he is not yet at the point where he can carry a team without help at the other receiver positions. And you know what? That’s not unusual. There are only a handful of guys who can, and even fewer who are in their third season, their second playing full time.

10. . . . and the rest of the receiving corps is really young . . . The Jaguars played with Shorts Sunday and three other receivers – Ace Sanders, Jeremy Ebert and Tobais Palmer – with a combined four games and 11 receptions entering the game. That’s exceedingly young and it showed, with that group combing for five receptions for 64 yards.

11. . .  so the Jaguars really need Justin Blackmon. He will return from his four-game suspension against the Rams Sunday. Don’t expect the Jaguars’ offense to join the league’s elite, but his return will help.

12. Marcedes Lewis may not help for a while. The veteran tight end tried to play on the calf injury that kept him out of the first three regular-season games. He played briefly, then was taken to the locker room and later ruled out. He said afterward it’s the same issue – trying to stop and start quickly – and it remains to be seen how long he will be out.

13. The defense can’t hang on forever. The Jaguars’ defense probably isn’t one of the best 10 in the NFL, and it may or may not be in the Top 15. But it has played well enough in three of the games this season to keep many offenses in the NFL in the game. The defense actually played very well Sunday for a quarter and a half and allowed 13 first-half points. That’s not perfect, but it’s enough that the Jaguars shouldn’t have felt like they were in a huge hole at halftime.

14. The safeties have potential. Rookie safeties Johnathan Cyprien and Josh Evans started together for the first time. They showed what they showed a week before in Seattle – that they’re young, but that the ceiling for them as a tandem is very high.

15. There’s no quick fix. People clamored for change last week. On the offensive line. At quarterback. Everywhere. They will clamor again this week. That’s understandable. When teams lose, people clamor. The Jaguars lost 37-3 and have lost four games by double digits. There is no magical lineup change that will make this better right away. They are starting the best players on the team. Those players have to play better. A lot better. And they have to do it in a hurry.

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