JACKSONVILLE,Fla. - With an announced 59, 695 tickets distributed for the Jaguars/Colts game today it's a shame that so much of the Jaguars performance was sub-standard. While the offense didn't produce the defense had so many lapses on long yardage situations that it made it easy for Indianapolis.
Blaine Gabbert appeared early in the game to be playing with the "freedom" Gus Bradley encouraged him to play with this week but after a couple of drops by Cecil Shorts and one run back for a TD, Gabbert reverted to the Gabbert we're all too familiar with.
It's clear the Jaguars are outmanned on both sides of the ball, but the mental mistakes, the penalties on a veteran like Jason Babin and the flat out missed coverages are too glaring to overlook.
Some players need to pay a bigger price for their mistakes. I know Bradley is trying to keep the culture upbeat but there are too many times guys look like they don't know what they're doing.
So where do they start?
While panicking doesn't help anybody, I think the team needs a little shake up. Maybe not this week but certainly Bradley needs to send a message that this kind of play, and the lack of focus and mental errors will not be tolerated.
Cut Jason Babin. Even thought Bradley said it's not time to start cutting anybody. Cut Babin.
I know he's a veteran and has talent on a team that doesn't have any to spare but Bradley needs to grab the team by it's shirt and shake it a bit. At the very least a heavy fine or a benching sends a message to the rest of the team.
Next week Justin Blackmon returns and while you can't put a lot of hope in him changing what happens on offense, it's at least what your offense is supposed to look like. Marcedes Lewis played about a series in the Colts game so it's clear he's not right and you can't count on him perhaps for the entire year. So I guess you can't actually judge Gabbert on what has happened early this year but looking at his body of work over three years it's hard to project him as a starting quarterback with a future of production in the NFL.
"We like his traits," is how Bradley justified their confidence in putting Gabbert back in the game this week but Gabbert just doesn't seem to "get it." Instead of stepping up in the pocket, he's trying to run around. His decision-making in crucial situations tends to allow the other team to grab the advantage instead of moving the Jaguars forward.
Do you make a change there? I'd be in favor of that but it probably won't happen until the full complement of the offense is together for a couple of games. I don't think that'll make a difference but the Jaguars want to make absolutely sure this is the right move. "I'm standing strong with Blaine," Bradley said when asked in his post-game press conference. So we'll see more of #11 at least for the foreseeable future.
It's painful to watch right now because Bradley is upbeat about the effort and the positive message but seems to realize after four weeks of the regular season that his team isn't getting that message in the right way. It's one thing to compete, and it's one thing to be in position to make the play. But it's a whole other thing, and a professional expectation that you'll execute that play. That's what you're getting paid for. To make plays.
It appears the Jaguars as a whole are playing not to make mistakes and without the confidence to compete against other NFL players and teams. Fifty-fifty balls are going to the opposition consistently. All the breaks are going against the Jaguars because in that league you make your own breaks.
If their stated goal is to put the best players on the field, it's hard not to think that this team wouldn't be better with Daryl Smith, Montel Owens and even Derrick Cox on the roster.
So Jaguars fans can only hope that Bradley and Caldwell know what they're doing.
Because this isn't getting any better anytime soon.
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