On Jaguars' inability to stretch the field

October, 1, 2012
10/01/12
5:30
PM ET
The Jacksonville Jaguars simply cannot get the ball down the field.

Blaine Gabbert hit big passes at the end of the loss at the Minnesota Vikings and to win the game at the Indianapolis Colts.

Otherwise, big plays are missing in a big way from the passing attack.

Gabbert’s average gain is 5.79 yards, worse among NFL quarterbacks. Only two other quarterbacks aren’t averaging at least 6 yards a completion, Cleveland Browns rookie Brandon Weeden (5.97) and Seattle Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson (5.94). Meanwhile nine quarterbacks average completions at least two yards better than Gabbert, headed by Cam Newton at 9.47.

Coach Mike Mularkey was asked Monday at his news conference about Gabbert's inability to get ball down the field:
“I think he has improved in a number of ways. I think what we talked about early when we first got here about his pocket presence, his balance in the pocket, and standing in there making throws with pressure I think is better. I like that he ran the ball yesterday. I think he needs to run the ball more. I think he needs to be a threat to defenses because he is athletic and he is fast for his size. We’re trying to get the ball down the field. We’ve got to block better for him. I think that if we protect better his numbers will increase. We really have not protected like we have liked to get some of those throws down the field.”

The follow up was whether protection or separation down the field is a bigger issue:
“It’s a little of everything. It’s the protections. It’s Blaine at times not being patient when the protection is good. That’s been the case. A lot of that is from prior history of his time clock going off faster than it should go off because that’s something he has got to get better at. Another example of yesterday was zero coverage. You get a coverage where everybody’s coming and it’s nobody is in the back. No free safety. They’re all coming there’s going to be one guy on block. He knows it’s zero and he’s still got to be able to step up and throw down there in the red zone and get Kevin Elliott on stride. Those are things, that’s a process he’s going to learn every game, every time something comes up, that’s something he’s going to get better at. Our receivers winning better in one-on-one situations. It’s a lot of things that will help improve this passing game.”

As for the protection, the Jaguars seemed confident the return of injured left guard Eben Britton and right tackle Cameron Bradfield would bolster things.

But Britton was benched at the half in favor of undrafted rookie Mike Brewster.

Mularkey said Britton “was ineffective, was struggling, and (we) wanted to try something different.”

Indications are Britton and Brewster could split reps this week, and the guy who shows better could play Sunday against Chicago.

Meanwhile the deep threat hasn't emerged. Laurent Robinson was signed to be that guy, but he's not found a rhythm. He's now been knocked out of two games in a row with concussions and he suffered one in the preseason as well.

He's unlikely to be on the field against the Bears.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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