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What we learned

Posted Oct 8, 2012

What we learned from the Jaguars' 41-3 loss to the Chicago Bears at EverBank Field on Sunday

1. A lot of work needs to get done in a hurry. You’re never as far away as you look in the NFL. That’s an old coaching adage, and there’s truth to it. It’s what Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey will tell his team, and history suggests he’s right. But the Jaguars have lost three home games by 17 or more points. There may be a lot of little fixable things, but we’re five games in and those things need to get fixed before the season slips too far away.

2. The run defense is struggling. It looked better for two games, but the tackling issues that were a problem early came back Sunday. The Bears rushed for 214 yards, and while a lot of that was after the game was decided, that’s just too many. Some of it’s the interior line. Some is having backups at outside linebacker. Some of it is not filling run gaps. It all adds up to a defense that’s not getting offenses off the field. This isn’t an elite-level defense in terms of Pro Bowl talent, but it was a good tackling defense last season. It needs to get back to that.

3. The passing offense is hurting Maurice Jones-Drew. Well, “duh,” but this is about more than the passing yards. Chicago focused on Maurice Jones-Drew and forced Blaine Gabbert and the passing offense to win the game Sunday. They couldn’t, and the side effect was a 56-yard rushing day for Jones-Drew.

4. The pass rush still isn’t right. The Jaguars had one sack for five yards. The good news is the Jaguars did get a sack, their first in three games. The bad news is they only got one and Jay Cutler still had far too much time to throw.

5. Derek Cox is good. Yes, Brandon Marshall had 12 receptions for 144 yards, but he was targeted 17 times. Cox covered Marshall much of the game and made some plays on the ball early. He had an early interception that should have given the Jaguars more momentum than it did. Overall, Cox gave up more yards than he wanted, but it’s tough to contain Marshall all day when the pass rush isn’t getting home.

6. Gabbert must improve. We’re not going to make this No. 1, because it’s not the biggest problem on this team. Gabbert still needs help from the receivers. He still needs better protection more consistently. But there’s no doubt he also needs to make more plays downfield, and you need more than a few first-half completions to have a complete day.

7. Cecil Shorts has a knack for the big play. He’s not doing it all of the time yet, but no receiver on the Jaguars has made more big plays this season. It’s not even close.

8. The black unis looked good. Yeah, I know it didn’t seem to matter by the end of the game. But the black jerseys and white pants – I liked the look. Some people didn’t, but overall, they looked sharp.

9. Justin Blackmon is showing signs of life. Yes, people wanted more than signs of life from the rookie No. 5 overall selection, but as we’ve said often, rookie receivers often take time. It may have been lost in the second-half barrage, but Blackmon started making plays on the ball and he started making some plays that looked like first-round plays. There has to be more but seeing them is a step forward.

10. Maurice Jones-Drew is frustrated. The three-time Pro Bowl running back talked extensively after the game of being tired of losing, and of dealing with losing for five years. He echoed the sentiments of a lot of fans. Sunday’s game was bad. Allowing 38 points in 20 minutes has a rock-bottom feeling to it. The only thing worse is not getting better from that sort of feeling. As a team, it’s time to turn that frustration into something different.

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