The Jacksonville Jaguars are midway through the 2011-12 season. Heading into their bye week, the Jaguars stand at a disappointing 2-6. The Jaguars seemed to be destined to be a sub .500 team entering the year, but some close losses have made the record a bitter pill to swallow.
Jaguars 101 will be doing plenty of reflecting this week. We'll have some superlatives that we'd like fans to vote and will take a look at where the team goes from here. But for now we'll look at exactly has gone wrong for the Jaguars this season and what they can build on going forward.
What Went Wrong
Here are the list of things that have absolutely crushed the Jaguars' chance of possibly being a playoff-caliber team. Some of them were expected, other were surprises.
1.) The Quarterback Situation- Things looked bleak in the preseason when David Garrard looked sluggish, again. Rookie Blaine Gabbert showed some potential early on in the preseason, but hit a wall and never really progressed. With him and Garrard looking equally average, the Jaguars decided to go with Luke McCown, who was stellar against third-team defenses in the preseason. Then things went to hell when McCown threw four interceptions against the New York Jets. Gabbert was inserted into the starting lineup the following week, but has been abysmal, completing just 45 percent of his passes.
2.) Help Around Gabbert- In all fairness to the first-round pick, the players around him haven't really stepped up. The offensive line has struggled with injuries all year long and OG Will Rackley and RT Guy Whimper have been abhorrent in pass protection. The receivers have been horrible as well. Mike Thomas and Jason Hill simply aren't getting much separation for Gabbert. And then there is…
3.) Marcedes Lewis- The Pro Bowl tight end has fallen off the map this season. Is it because he's content with a new contract? Is he struggling with chemistry or lack there of with Gabbert? Whatever the reason, Lewis hasn't been a factor all year. He looks unathletic and has committed his fair share of drops. They say a tight end is a young quarterback's best friend, but Lewis must not like Gabbert that much.
4.) The Punting Game- Matt Turk might might have singly handedly cost the Jaguars' two games. He averaged 39 yards per punt and his blunders against the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals sent him packing. The problem appears to be resolved with Nick Harris, but it seems too little, too late.
What Went Right
Eh not much to talk about here, although the right has been encouraging.
1.) Defensive Growth- Jacksonville had one of the league's worst defenses last season. GM Gene Smith targeted that side of the ball this offseason and brought in five new starters and a nickel back. The move has paid off, as the Jaguars rank seventh in the NFL in total defense. The group is still relatively young and should gel together. Really, the players fill the roles in the 4-3 defense perfectly. Props to Mel Tucker, who has put his players in positions to succeed. Terrance Knighton at DT is a building block for the future.
3.) MJD, Sort Of- Maurice Jones-Drew has shouldered the burden of being Jacksonville's only consistent weapon on offense, rushing fro 740 yards (4.5 YPC) and three touchdowns. However, Jones-Drew has struggled with fumbles this season, which is a new, disturbing trend.
Going forward for this season, it seems like the Jaguars are sunk this season. The defense just needs to continue to get acquainted to one another and try to see if John Chick can continue to grow as a pass rusher.
Offensively, what else can you do to improve the team's outlook? The Jaguars are already starting a rookie QB. Maybe given rookie WR Cecil Shorts and OT Cameron Bradfield more playing time to see what they can do.
Other than that, it looks like for the Jaguars can only wait out the rest of this season before adding some key offensive players next year.
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