September 16, 2012; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) is sacked by Houston Texans outside linebacker Brooks Reed (58) during the second quarter at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE
With a win over the Texans, the Jaguars could top the division and right all the wrongs from their Week 1 loss to the Vikings. They could do this by building off the late TD from QB Blaine Gabbert to WR Cecil Shorts III and the stonewalling of All-Pro DE Allen by Jaguars up-and-coming LT Eugene Monroe. The future could still be bright.
After watching the Jaguars fall apart against the Texans, I can deliver this message: All momentum is lost, ladies and gentlemen. Every last bit is gone. Do not confuse that with me saying: The season is over/lost. I simply mean the momentum from all the positive plays against the Vikings as well as the pre-season momentum has followed Tupac and Elvis to the Barbados Islands.
To be frank, the real story of this game simply stands as a show for the Texans job in acquiring talent. They've simply acquired more talent than the Jaguars acquired in the same amount of time. I'm not here to bash GM Gene Smith and his guys on their job of bringing talent in to this team, but I do want to point out that the Jags were outmatched.
The Texans lost their most productive pass rusher in Mario Williams and have not missed him on the field. The "next man up" philosophy works well in Houston, where depth of talent doesn't worry the fans. For example: If the Jaguars had lost DE Jeremy Mincey to Free Agency, the townsfolk would cry out "Season Over!". At nearly every position on the field, the Jags looked outplayed by the Texans and had no help from the next man up.
Blaine Gabbert played with a distressed look on his face throughout the game as none of the WR's looked open and the line constantly allowed pressure, though I only saw through the broadcast angles. All-Pro RB Maurice Jones-Drew couldn't get to the line of scrimmage with regularity, though that was hardly his own fault. The run game did not work, the pass game did not work. The offensive line, in short, got dominated.... while missing 2 starters.
The Jags played with newly-acquired LG Herb Taylor, who started his first game since starting one game in 2008 for the Chiefs. Clearly, the desperate times called for desperate measures while the line played without LG Eben Britton and RT Cameron Bradfield. This became pivotal as the Jaguars failed to get a consistent push in the run game, leaving Jones-Drew to fend for himself behind the line of scrimmage with regularity. The Texans needn't worry about the deep ball, and they devoted everything to stopping the run. It worked.
The most pivotal loss, however, continued to be LB Daryl Smith who missed his second consecutive game as he rehabs from a groin injury suffered in training camp . While LBers Russel Allen and Kyle Bosworth put all they could into their performance, they could neither replace Smith nor LB Clint Session who continues to miss due to concussions symptoms. Allen and Bosworth each occasionally had a good play as they led to the belief that each guy represents quality in a backup position. They constantly swarmed the ball, only a second too late.
Being aware of the Jaguars now weakness at LBer, the Texans started the game consistently converting screens. There were at least four screens run to near perfection on the Texans first drive. The Texans followed the screens up with good, solid run plays by the RB-combo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. The Jaguars, as mentioned above, swarmed well on defense but provided no pressure on QB Matt Schaub and never forced the Texans to deviate from their game plan of "Attack The LB Unit". Screen plays have now dominated the Jaguars in two straight games
Texans DE JJ Watt played well enough to remind one of Ravens NT Haloti Ngata, a future Hall of Famer. Watt became un-blockable by the end of the game finishing with 4 tackles, 1 assist and a sack to go along with a fumble recovery. No, it was not all RT Guy Whimper's fault.
At halftime, CBS announced the Jags had gained a mere 43 yards of offense, 38 for Jones-Drew, and an impressively bad -1 passing yards. You read that right: negative one passing yards in the entire first half. The foreseeable future is not bright, but it is not as bad as it seems. When the offensive line gets healthy and the defense can return CB Derek Cox, along with Smith and Session, you're watching a totally different team.
The season isn't over and let's not write every national media pundit to complain about the way they write about backup QB Chade Henne replacing Gabbert in the 4th quarter.
So you know, Gabbert had his left leg (plant leg) wrapped with ice and was relieved by Henne who immediately converted two first downs. Gabbert will remain the starter. The Jags are committed to Gabbert (10th pick and lots of $$$ says so) and will make sure to give him a fair opportunity. However, if the abysmal play continues..... well, let's cross that bridge when we get there.