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What we learned

Posted Oct 22, 2012

Here’s what we learned in the Jaguars' 26-23 overtime loss to the Oakland Raiders Sunday...

1) The running game needs the passing game. It really doesn’t matter who the running back is right now. Maurice Jones-Drew. Rashad Jennings. Teams are stacking the run and assuming the Jaguars can’t beat them throwing. So far they’re assuming correctly. Until the Jaguars prove that strategy wrong, teams will use it.

2) There is a pass rush after all. The Jaguars’ pass rush got just two sacks Sunday, but that number doesn’t come close to telling the story. The defensive front played its best game of the season, and got significant pressure on Carson Palmer. This was a step forward.

3) Chad Henne isn’t better than Blaine Gabbert. A lot of people wanted Henne to play, to give Gabbert a “chance to learn on the bench.” It’s unfair to judge a quarterback when he has almost no reps in practice for an extended period, but it’s fair to have expected better from Henne Sunday.

4) Justin Blackmon has a ways to go. The Jaguars wanted to get him the ball more. Instead, he was catchless until the second half and wasn’t much of a factor at all. The Jaguars need him to be productive, and need him to develop into a go-to guy. So far, the progress has been slow. That’s not unexpected from a rookie wide receiver, but it’s hurting.

5) The Jaguars’ defense is still capable. The Jaguars were the No. 6 defense in the NFL last season. Until Sunday, they hadn’t looked close to that. For much of the game Sunday, they did.

6) Gabbert still has promise. People are tired of hearing about his potential, and they’re tired of just seeing flashes. But Sunday’s flashes were pretty bright right up until the injury. It’s the same old song, but Sunday looked like it had a chance to be progress.

7) The Jaguars are very, very young at wide receiver. We discussed Blackmon already, but Cecil Shorts is a second-year guy, too – and all that that implies. He had a 42-yard touchdown, his fourth huge play of the season, but also had a critical pass interference penalty and a late fumble that put the Raiders in field-goal range. The positive is he still looks like a bright spot this season.

8) Josh Scobee is clutch. For a second consecutive year, he is proving not only that he is one of the NFL’s best clutch kickers, but one of the most consistent. The kicks he made Sunday weren’t easy, but he helped keep the Jaguars in a positive situation much of the second half.

9) Derek Cox keeps getting better. The fourth-year cornerback is playing at a Pro Bowl level. The guy truly is entering his prime. He may not get postseason honors because of the team’s record, but he’s playing at a very high level.

10) The offense’s problems run deep. Henne struggled, but it wasn’t all him. The line didn’t give him adequate time and it all just looked dysfunctional. It’s really tough to win in the NFL converting 1 of 15 third downs. The Jaguars almost did, but that’s a troubling statistic.

11) The season is in trouble. We knew it already, but while 1-4 is tough, 1-5 is really tough. Green Bay is next. It will take one of the biggest upsets in franchise history to pull off a victory there. Nothing’s impossible in the NFL, but this will be a monster task.

12) The team hasn’t quit. As true as No. 11 is, this one’s equally true. The Jaguars were against an awful lot of odds Sunday, with their starting quarterback and starting running back out. They fought and nearly pulled off a victory. Things look bleak, but to say this team played without energy or emotion is missing the point.

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