What we learned

1) The Jaguars aren't there yet. OK, we knew that. This is a work in progress. That's to be expected with a first-year coach and second-year quarterback. The process in many ways began Sunday. Patience is tough. It's not always fun. But on a lot of important fronts, Sunday was a good start.

2) The secondary is hurting.Starting cornerback Derek Cox is out, and while it's hard to know how much of a difference his presence could have made, it sure wouldn't have hurt. Christian Ponder threw for 270 yards, and the one that hurt most was a late 26-yarder to Devin Aromashodu that set up a late field goal. Cox and Rashean Mathis not being 100 percent hurts. No question.

3) The defense must tackle better.Mike Mularkey has harped on it and Mel Tucker has, too. It's time to stop harping and start tackling. Percy Harvin wasn't the only Vikings player making guys miss, but he sure did it a lot Sunday. Too often.

4) The offensive line has gotten thin.Guard Eben Britton didn't finish the game, and tackle Cameron Bradfield didn't, either. Guard Uche Nwaneri left the game and while he came back in, a group that entered the season thin got thinner Sunday. The offensive line played well—particularly left tackle Eugene Monroe –  and did a good job protecting Gabbert for the most part, but the numbers are getting concerning.

5) Maurice Jones-Drew will be fine.Seven days after a 38-day holdout, the 2012 NFL rushing champion rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries. In a month, that's not a game with which he will be overly pleased, but considering he doesn't yet know a lot of the offense, Sunday's effort was promising.

6) The pass rush must improve.The interior of the line got push, and there was pressure from the outside at times. Credit defensive tackle Terrance Knighton with forcing a sack and a fumble in a big situation, but overall, this group would be the first to tell you two sacks for four yards has to improve.

7) The offense has a chance to be really productive.Laurent Robinson is looking like a weapon. So is Justin Blackmon. Marcedes Lewis looked better Sunday than he did in most games last year. Add in Cecil Shorts and Mike Thomas and there are enough options for Gabbert to grow. The loss wasn't easy, but that's the long-term takeaway from Sunday.

8) Special teams must improve.This was a problem area at times in the preseason, and while the Jaguars didn't give up any really long returns, there were a couple of key mistakes on special teams. First was the blocked extra point in the first half, a play that enabled the Vikings to tie with a late field goal. Then, kicker Josh Scobee's squib didn't reach the end zone. Those were a couple of game-changers.

9) Laurent Robinson should help.The free-agent wide receiver struggled enough in the preseason that many wondered if he was a good signing. One game does not a career make, but Robinson showed he can be what the Jaguars wanted him to be – a player who improves the talent level of the receiving corps and can get open and move the chains. This was a positive step for him.

10) Cecil Shorts is better than many thought.He had shown it in practice often each of his first two seasons, but until Sunday, game results were minimal. On Sunday, the second-year veteran had four receptions for 74 yards. His 39-yard touchdown gave the Jaguars the lead with 20 seconds remaining, and showed that this team has more than just one or two options in the wide receiver corps.

11) This team is better.It hurts now. Losing is supposed to, but if you eliminate a mistake or two, the Jaguars are 1-0. You are what your record says you are, but if you were looking for long-term signs of improvement, this game had that.

12) Blaine Gabbert has made strides.We saw it in the preseason, and now we have seen it in the regular season, too. We're not there yet, but we're close to being past the point of wondering if the improvement is for real and settle into watching the development of a young quarterback.

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