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The only question

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How long that wait will be is the question – really, the only question that matters tonight, and the only question likely to matter for a while around the Jaguars.

Not if Blaine Gabbert will be the starting quarterback, of course, but when.

When?

That's not news, of course, nor is it the most insightful line ever written about the NFL, but in the wake of the Jaguars' 32-3 loss to the New York Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium, it's not a time to be cute, clever or search for subtleties.

The story on this team is Gabbert's timetable for moving into the starting lineup. It has been since the Jaguars traded up this past April in the 2011 NFL Draft to select him with the No. 11 overall selection, and surged unquestionably and  permanently to the to the fore Sunday.

Luke McCown, elevated to the starting position 12 days ago with the release of veteran David Garrard, on Sunday threw 19 passes and completed six for 59 yards. He threw four interceptions, the last of which came on his final pass of the game.

Gabbert entered the game after that, which left one post-game theme:

Next week's starter.

"We decided after Luke threw his fourth interception that we would give Blaine an opportunity, and that was the decision for today," Del Rio said. "I guess the immediate next question is, 'What are you going to do going forward?' My answer is we'll discuss that as a staff.

"What I can tell you now is I made the decision in this ball game to let Blaine play, and let him get a little experience."

Del Rio indicated nothing publicly beyond that, correctly so. This is not a decision to make in the moments after a game, particularly in the moments after a 29-point loss.

 "We're going to do the things that make sense for us to win on Sunday," Del Rio said.  "I thought we put together a pretty good plan to come up here, but obviously it was a rough day."

It was rough from the start. Although the line mostly protected well, McCown took a sack on the Jaguars' first series and landed in the end zone for a safety and a 9-0 Jets lead. The Jaguars' defense, which has started the season with back-to-back sub-300-yard games for the first time since 2001, played well throughout most of the first half, and with a little more than six minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Jaguars reached the Jets 28 with one of McCown's best passes of the game – a 25-yarder to Jarett Dillard.

On the next play, McCown overthrew Mike Thomas. Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie intercepted at the Jets 3, and the Jaguars moved past the Jets 49 just once thereafter.

"The one that killed the boat," Del Rio said of the interception.

It never got better after that. Quarterbacking against the Jets' cornerbacks and exotic blitzes is never easy. It's so much the tougher when the Jets know – as they did much of the third quarter Sunday – that the quarterback must throw.

McCown threw another interception late in the first quarter, and two more in the third quarter, and when the fourth quarter opened, Gabbert entered the game with Jacksonville trailing, 32-3.

In all four of McCown's last six drives ended with interceptions.

McCown said what made it most difficult was he had a good week of practice, one of the best he had had.

"To come out and have the kind of day we had was frustrating," McCown said.

The question, of course, is if he'll have another chance to prepare as a starter.

"That's not for me to say," McCown said. "My job is to go look at the film, see where I can get better and help this team win. That will be the focus first thing in the morning."

McCown said what was most frustrating was he didn't feel fooled by the Jets, that their schemes weren't overly confusing. The interceptions, he said, were a matter of a couple of great plays by the Jets here, and a couple of passes just a bit off there.

"It was never a case of not seeing the right read," he said. "It was six inches too low, and that was the frustrating part about it. We just didn't execute and that starts with me."

Gabbert handled the post-game questions with class. He spoke of the relationship between he and McCown, and said "I have his back 110 percent."

"Quarterbacks are going to have days like today," sadi Gabbert, who completed 5 of 6 passes for 52 yards. "It's a part of the game. We're going to learn from it and move on."

Gabbert said he hasn't thought about the future, that he has given no thought to a potential match-up next week in Charlotte with Cam Newton, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft now starting at quarterback for Carolina.

If he was to start, Gabbert said, "I'm going to be ready – no question about that."

The problem, of course, is there is a question. Is Gabbert ready? He is a rookie, three years removed from high school, and with the lockout taking away the off-season, he had a shorter than usual time to prepare to be an NFL starter. At times in the preseason, he showed big-time ability, made big-time throws. At times, he looked like an NFL rookie and all that that implies.

However the Jaguars address the question, the answer won't be perfect. If there was a perfect answer, there wouldn't be a quarterbacking issue midway through the first month of the season.

Still, the question isn't if, but when. Gabbert is the quarterback of the future, and as such, he is one story around the Jaguars that really, really matters. The clamor for him to be named the guy began shortly after the draft, got louder 12 days ago and unquestionably grows louder still.

And after Sunday, it's a clamor that may get pretty hard to ignore.

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