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Jaguars Training Camp Report: Defense Well Ahead

July 27, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) hands off the ball during the first day of training camp practice at Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE
July 27, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) hands off the ball during the first day of training camp practice at Florida Blue Health & Wellness Practice Fields. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

I figured since I was actually at training camp for the Jacksonville Jaguars today at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield practice facility, I would tell you what actually happened. I'm sure we've all seen how "terrible" Blaine Gabbert has looked, according to people who aren't even remotely close to the state of Florida, but all that is is lazily finding things to fit a narrative. Sure, Blaine Gabbert went through a stretch to end practice where he completed just one pass out of 12 passing plays, but that wasn't because Gabbert "stunk".

Here's the innocent tweet from The Florida Times-Union's Vito Stellino, which started a wildfire of egregious misinformation:

I'll explain what made this so hilarious to the people who are actually, you know, physically at the practice.

This tweet from Vito, which I categorize as innocent because he's just presenting straight numbers without opinion, set off a wildfire that spread through Twitter which lead to the usual crowd to proclaim how bad Gabbert has been in practice so far, being the "same as it ever was." What made this so funny, is the fact that no one said anything to that effect, even Vito Stellino who had to follow up later to state that Gabbert is improving, he was just presenting some numbers.

Part of the problem was, people took Vito's tweet and mis-read it, thinking that Gabbert completed just one of 12 passes, when in reality during the 12 passing snaps he went 1-5 with 1-2 drops and was forced to scramble at least seven times. Gabbert was forced to scramble not because he was leaving the pocket early, but because the wide receivers struggled to get open in 11 x 11 drills.

Alfie Crow breaks down Jaguars camp battles.

Chad Henne did the same, but no one seems to care about that.

Fact of the matter is, the Jaguars offense looked as if it was stuck in the mud, which is to be expected early on in camp. They're installing a new offense with some new moving parts and the defense, which was a top defense in 2011, is virtually completely installed with the same group of players.

The Good

  • The Jaguars defensive backs had the Jaguars receivers on lockdown virtually all of practice, especially in team drills. Kevin Rutland continues to have a great start to training camp and making the most of his time playing on the outside in place of Rashean Mathis.
  • Aaron Ross looks like he can be a playmaker playing on the inside, with his speed and quickness blitzing.
  • Andre Branch looks like he can be a force off the edge and will be someone to watch when the pads actually go on. Jeremy Mincey also looks like he's going to follow up his 2011 season with another good season in 2012. Mincey gave Eugene Monroe fits all through practice.
  • John Chick was running drills off to the side and looked to be running at full speed. There wasn't a noticeable limp or anything from what I could notice.
  • In one-on-one drills, Kevin Elliot continues to be able to get open deep down the field and haul in difficult catches.

The Bad

  • Laurent Robinson appears to be pressing a bit to be the "guy", trying to live up to his big money contract. On one play in particular Robinson beat his man deep and Gabbert launched the ball down field, but missed just Robinson by about the length of a hand. After the play, wide receiver coach Jerry Sullivan walked towards Robinson and told him to stop slowing up and to keep running, because Gabbert is throwing to his speed and not to where he is. Robinson also dropped a few passes, but again I feel like Robinson will be fine and is just pressing.
  • Chad Henne really struggled in practice today. Henne had one particular sequence of plays where he bounced a short pass in the dirt in front of the receiver, missed on the next pass, and then was picked off by Chris Prosinski on a pass down the field where he put way too much air under the ball. The receiver (not sure which) was open, but Henne just left too much air and Prosinski was able to cut the ball off for the pick.

The Ugly

  • The Jaguars wide receivers just could not get open during the latter half of practice. It led to both quarterbacks being forced to tuck the football and take off running, usually after being "sacked". Both Henne and Gabbert stood in the pocket for a good 3-4 seconds looking for someone to get open, but to no avail.
  • The offensive line also struggled to keep defenders off the quarterbacks during team drills. Guys like Branch, Austen Lane, Mincey, and even some of the linebackers were in the backfield all morning.