Blaine Gabbert took the blame – as much as he could, anyway.
But while the Jaguars' second-year quarterback struggled throughout the latter part of a 41-3 loss to the Chicago Bears Sunday, Head Coach Mike Mularkey said Gabbert will remain the starter.
Mularkey, asked about possible personnel changes, said, "That will be discussed, but right now at this second I don't see anything of that nature happening."
Asked specifically about a change at quarterback, Mularkey said, "No."
"We're going to evaluate everybody from every position," Mularkey said. "That will be done this week."
Gabbert, after completing 10 of 18 passes for 120 yards in the first half, completed 7 of 15 passes for 22 yards in the final two quarters. Two of the second-half passes were returned for touchdowns as the Bears outscored Jacksonville 38-0 in the second half at EverBank Field.
"It falls on my shoulders when the momentum swings that bad," Gabbert said. "When you have two pick sixes, you're not going to win ball games."
Gabbert's first interception was returned by cornerback Charles Tillman 36 yards for a touchdown. The play gave Chicago a 13-3 lead and the Jaguars never recovered. Mularkey said rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon, the intended receiver on the play, should have come back for the ball, but Gabbert took blame for the interception.
"I've got to see that and throw the ball out of bounds," Gabbert said. "It's a mistake that's correctable. We're not making mistakes that aren't correctable. We're trying hard, but that does no good. The wins and losses speak for themselves. We've got to find a way to get some wins and things will get better around here."
PLAY OF THE GAME
This one's pretty clear this week, and it went against the Jaguars in a big way. The Jaguars and Bears were in a tight battle late in the third quarter, and that remained true after Bears kicker Robbie Gould converted a 31-yard field goal to cap a 76-yard, 17-play drive. The Jaguars' defense scrapped and clawed on that drive, and the offense had some momentum from a solid first half. But after offensive tackle Eugene Monroe was called for holding on first down, the Jaguars faced 1st-and-20 from their 15. On the play, Gabbert threw deep to Blackmon. Cornerback Charles Tillman made an easy interception and weaved his way back through the Jaguars' offense for a 36-yard touchdown and a 13-3 Chicago lead.
The Bears took the early lead, but the Jaguars showed signs of life. Gould's 32-yard field goal gave the Bears a 3-0 lead with 4:23 remaining in the quarter, but Gabbert converted two third downs with passes late in the period to start a drive that produced points early in the second quarter. The Jaguars let one opportunity early slip away, failing to take advantage of an interception by cornerback Derek Cox at the Bears 45.
The Jaguars controlled the second quarter, with kicker Josh Scobee converting a 31-yard field goal early in the period to tie the game, 3-3. The Jaguars' defense struggled to pressure Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, but the secondary was solid in coverage and Cutler finished the half 10-of-20 for 110 yards. Gabbert drove the Jaguars into the Chicago red zone, but lost a fumble when he was sacked by end Corey Wootton. Gabbert finished the half 10-of-18 for 110 yards.
The Bears took control in a three-play span of the period. First, Gould converted a 31-yard field goal. Two plays later, Tillman's interception return gave the Bears a 10-point lead and any momentum Jacksonville had from a solid second period was gone.
The Jaguars played solidly for the better part of three quarters, but in the fourth quarter, it got one-sided in a hurry. Chicago scored four fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 36-yard interception return by linebacker Lance Briggs that made it 34-3, Chicago.
"I have already talked to those guys in there about this: I said, 'No matter what is said outside, I think people inside know we are closer than anybody will ever write or say in the next two weeks.' I think they know that and I think they see that. We have spent a lot of time together through the offseason, through training camp, tough practices, pain and blood. We have been together in a lot of things. I don't think one half is going to change us."
"We're just making mistakes. We turned the ball over this game. We'd been pretty good on that throughout the early parts of the season. We have to get back to protecting the football and executing."
"All we can do is just keep working. We have to figure out what we're doing wrong. We didn't play well as an offense. We had opportunity as an offense to change the game in the first half and we didn't do it. We have to continue to work."
STAT OF THE GAME
The Bears dominated statistically thoroughly enough that it's hard to pick one. They had 26 first downs to 10 for the Jaguars, and not only outgained the Jaguars 501-189, they had a 36:00-24:00 time-of-possession advantage. Probably the key statistic was that the Bears returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The Bears had the same statistic in a victory over Dallas last week, and you know going in the Jaguars couldn't allow defensive touchdowns if they were going to win.
OFFENSIVELY . . .
The offense showed signs of life in the first half, but it wasn't enough and those signs didn't last nearly long enough. The Jaguars finished with 144 first-half offensive yards, and while Gabbert had several long solid passes in the first half that got the Jaguars in scoring range, he threw a critical interception that was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter. He finished with 142 yards passing and two interceptions, and with the Bears holding Maurice Jones-Drew to 56 rushing yards, the Jaguars managed 189 yards offense.
DEFENSIVELY . . .
The statistics tell the story, and for the defense, it's not a good one. The Jaguars' defense played admirably through the first two and a half quarters, holding the Bears to 191 first-half yards and three first-half points. The defense also held Chicago out of the end zone on the first drive of the second half. But after a 76-yard drive to start the third quarter, the Jaguars allowed Chicago 244 yards offense in the game's final 20 minutes.
The Jaguars had momentum in this game in the second quarter and if they weren't outplaying the Bears, it was close. With 7:42 remaining in the half they started a drive at their 22 and moved to the Bears 20 with a 34-yard pass from Gabbert to wide receiver Cecil Shorts. On 2nd-and-11 from the 21, Bears defensive end Corey Wootton sacked Gabbert, forcing a fumble that defensive end Julius Peppers recovered.
For two and a half quarters, this game had a different feel. The Jaguars fought and made it close, and after holding the Bears on a long drive early in the third quarter, trailed 6-3. In the end, though, it was too much of the same story from the first two home games and the Jaguars lost by double digits for a third consecutive home game. The players and coaches talked throughout the week of needing to make a play and turn around a season, but on Sunday, the play was made by the Bears, and when Tillman returned the interception for a third-quarter touchdown, the Jaguars didn't threaten again. This team continues to believe it's close, and there was some evidence of that Sunday. Unfortunately, what the fans see is the reality of 1-4 and that makes for a long couple of weeks before a road game at Oakland.
The Jaguars reported no significant injuries.
*Scobee's 31-yard field goal early in the second quarter gave him 175 for his career. That ties him with Mike Hollis for the most in franchise history.
*The Jaguars' inactives on Sunday were cornerback Kevin Rutland, linebacker Daryl Smith, offensive guard Herb Taylor, wide receiver Laurent Robinson, wide receiver/return specialist Micheal Spurlock, defensive end George Selvie and defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton.
*Defensive tackle C.J. Mosley started for Terrance Knighton and Austen Lane started in place of rookie Andre Branch. Those were the new starters Sunday, and linebacker Kyle Bosworth started in place of Daryl Smith again.
*With a 27-yard run in the fourth quarter, Jones-Drew surpassed 12,000 yards for his career. Only Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith previously have done so in franchise history.
The Jaguars have a bye next week and will play the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Cal., the following week.
Three home games, three one-sided losses. This team talked throughout the week of improvement and being close. There was progress in a few areas. The offensive line for the most part did a nice job most of the game keeping pressure off Gabbert, but after the second quarter, the Jaguars struggled to produce anything offensively. Just a very tough second half, one that made whatever positive from the first half very difficult to remember.