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What we learned: Jaguars vs Texans

Posted Nov 19, 2012

Here's what we learned from the Jaguars' 43-37 loss to the Houston Texans Sunday.

1. Justin Blackmon can play. We thought it. We assumed it. But until Sunday, we hadn’t seen it – at least not at the NFL level. Blackmon on Sunday was exactly what the Jaguars drafted him to be – a big-play, playmaking receiver. In fact, with 236 yards receiving, he was probably more than anyone imagined. He may not be a consistent deep threat yet, but if he’s taking steps to figuring out how to get open consistently, Sunday was a really positive step.

2. Cecil Shorts can play, too. We’ve known this for a while this season, but the second-year veteran seems to make a big play every week. After a while, that’s not a fluke – and for a team that hasn’t exactly piled up game-changing plays this season, it’s not easy, either. Shorts still must get more polished and more reliable on third downs, but he’s making plays and that’s a start.

3. The Jaguars’ secondary is weak against the pass. It hasn’t exactly been strong all year in this area, but there’s no way to view Sunday as a positive. Matt Schaub threw to wide-open receivers pretty much all game, and one of those receivers was perennial Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson. Johnson’s really, really good. On Sunday, the Jaguars made him look like an all-timer.

4. The pass rush needs work, too. There are few more dangerous combinations in the NFL than a secondary struggling to cover behind a pass rush struggling to get to the quarterback. Well, that pretty much summed up the Jaguars’ day on Sunday. The result was 640 yards total offense and a career day for Texans quarterback Matt Schaub.

5. Chad Henne isn’t who you thought he was. At least not if you thought the Oakland game last month was all he could do. Henne replaced Blaine Gabbert in the first quarter and became the first NFL quarterback in 25 years to enter a game as a backup and throw for four touchdowns with no interceptions. After struggling against Oakland, Henne said he prepared the last month as if he was the starter each week, and he had good practices during that period. On Sunday, it showed.

6. The Jaguars have a quarterback “situation.” Well, controversy is such an ugly word, but Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey absolutely has a decision to make at the position.  If Gabbert is healthy, this won’t be an easy call, because Henne played better Sunday than any Jaguars quarterback has in a while and at the same time, the team needs a clear answer on Gabbert. Mularkey said a decision will come later in the week. The decision will be intriguing.

7. The Jaguars can run the ball. The Jaguars moved Jalen Parmele into the lineup over Rashad Jennings, who struggled in three starts starting for Maurice Jones-Drew. Parmele didn’t reinvent rushing offense on Sunday, but he ran hard and got the Jaguars in enough positive down-and-distance situations to really help the passing game.

8. Paul Posluszny is tough. After seeing him bleeding from just above his nose in the post-game locker room, if the Jaguars middle linebacker isn’t tough, I’m not going to be the one to tell him.

9. There may really be something to this whole road thing. The Jaguars have lost all five home games by double digits. That’s troubling by itself, but packaged with the road results, it is just plain baffling. The Jaguars have lost three overtime games this season, and they played toe to toe on Sunday with a team many believe is the best in the AFC. The Jaguars have been a competitive team by any measure away from EverBank. It may be coincidence; if not, it’s time to find the reason.

10.This team is capable. Mularkey has said so all season, and Jaguars players have continued to believe. It’s not right to say this team is close, because 1-9 teams can’t say they’re close. But they showed they can compete, and that they can move the ball offensively. That gives them hope the rest of the way.

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