"I'm just tired of losing," Maurice Jones Drew said in the postgame locker room after the Bears beat the Jaguars 41-3. "It's been five years. I'm tired of not sleeping at night. I'm tired of not being able to play with my kids after a win. I'm tired." And with that, MJD summed up what most Jaguars fans are feeling after three blowout losses at home this year. They're tired.
Despite a change in ownership and in coaching staff and a clear upgrade at several positions, the Jaguars look like the same team. How can that be?
It's easy to instantly blame it on Blaine Gabbert. The quarterback is supposed to get the ball where it's supposed to be on time and that is supposed to result in first downs and touchdowns. We saw a little bit of that in the first half against the Bears as well as the entire game in Minnesota. But inexplicably it disappears almost as quickly as it arrived. "I don't have an answer," Gabbert told the assembled media. "Obviously I have to play better. Two pick sixes is not acceptable but we're working hard and practicing well. I don't know what we can do differently right now."
Gabbert is right, he can play better, show more confidence and take some of the quick things that are given to him as the defense figures out the Jaguars offensive game plan. He's just a half second tentative at times and that's all it takes to not be able to dump it off or fire it in there when it counts. His two interceptions for touchdowns can be blamed on someone else, and to his credit, he shouldered the responsibility.
Head Coach Mike Mularkey told us in his post game press conference that Justin Blackmon ran the wrong route on the first one and it was obvious that the second one went off MJD's hands. (While we're on that play, how come the Bear's linebackers were right on the Jaguars backs on the circle route and every time the Bears would run the same route out of the backfield the Jaguars linebackers would be two steps away?) When asked if he would consider a quarterback change during the bye week Mike said a quick, "No," But added, "We'll evaluate everything, including me.
It'll give us a chance to look at our selves." That's the right thing to say but they've come to the point in the season where they have to make a decision on Gabbert. Either they're going to stick with him to see if he improves as the season progresses and then decide what to do with him, or put Chad Henne in the game to see if he provides a spark. Henne was no world-beater in Miami, but right now he appears to be the quarterback that would give the Jaguars the best chance to win.
If they stick with Gabbert, they'll continue to take their lumps in between flashes of brilliance, a la the throw to Cecil Shorts in the Colts game.
"I told the team in the locker room that over the next two weeks, no matter what is said or written, we know we're closer than anybody knows. We've hurt ourselves in certain situations but we're closer to getting it done that it might appear from the outside."
When challenged on that by one scribe who said the small offensive production is a "trend," Mularkey looked at the guy and said, "I told you what I think. I'm on the inside. You're on the outside. I can say it louder if you like."
He really believes it.
Let's all hope he's right.