|Two quarterbacks going in different directions after Monday night's game. (US PRESSWIRE)|
Posted by Ryan Wilson
The first game of the Mel Tucker era looked a lot like the previous 11 games that ended up costing Jack Del Rio his job: a banged-up Jaguars defense got absolutely no support from a non-existent Jaguars offense. On Monday night, Jacksonville made the Chargers look like the Super Bowl contender many of us pegged them for during the preseason. By the time it was over, San Diego's offense had generated 433 yards and won going away, 38-14.
The Jags, meanwhile, continue to search for an identity. Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert could be named "textbook" because he looks the part. He's a strapping 6-5, and mechanically is as sound a thrower as you'll see. At least in shorts and t-shirts.
Have him face a pass rush and it's a different story. Gabbert has looked like, well, a rookie this season. Against the Chargers he was 19 of 33 for 163 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Incidentally, the first half was his best 30 minutes of football this season, right up until the moment an ill-timed pick late in the second quarter led to a Chargers score. That proved to be the turning point in the game.
In the second half, Gabbert reverted to the form that has frustrated teammates and infuriated fans; he's redefined the term "Captain Checkdown." In fact, he's so mastered the art of the dump-off pass that we're promoting him to Colonel. Things got so bad that by the third quarter, with the Jaguars trailing by 17 points, Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden wondered where the organization would be if it had drafted Tim Tebow last year.
There was some speculation in the weeks and months leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft that owner Wayne Weaver would take Tebow. Mostly because the former Florida product was from the area and would sell tickets. Certainly, no one expected him to contribute -- much less start -- and that had a lot to do with Jacksonville's draft strategy. And it's hard to fault them for it.
But unless Weaver has a time machine, passing on Tebow doesn't matter now.
What does matter is that the Jags are a mess. Tucker may very well be the best man to replace Del Rio but the offensive philosophy has to change. Because the Jags' D could play like the 2000 Ravens and it wouldn't be enough to overcome the offense's shortcomings. Some of that is because of Gabberts' inexperience, but it doesn't help when Cam Newton and Andy Dalton are having success, and Christian Ponder is showing glimpses of potential.
As it stands, Jacksonville is 3-9 and there isn't much to be excited about. Maybe they should sign Brett Favre. (That's a joke. We think.)
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