Why did Jaguars think they could protect?

October, 22, 2012
10/22/12
3:14
PM ET
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew won’t play Sunday in Green Bay with a midfoot injury that he suffered in Oakland.

Details aren’t yet known but Mike Mularkey indicated it could keep the running back out a while, per Twitter accounts of reporters who were at the coach’s Monday news conference.

The team is also waiting for an MRI on the left shoulder of Blaine Gabbert, but Mularkey sounded more optimistic about his quarterback.

I’d like to present a silver lining and say the Jaguars without MJD will be forced to put more of the offense on Gabbert -- something that seemed to be happening during MJD’s preseason holdout.

But there are things working against that:

1) Gabbert’s own health question: Being without the best guy to hand the ball off to won’t benefit a sore-shouldered quarterback.

2) Protection issues: Mularkey said he couldn’t really assess backup QB Chad Henne’s performance because the team had protection issues, which included losing right guard Uche Nwaneri to a knee injury.

The protection conversation is ongoing. Back in May, I asked why the Jaguars were expecting better pass protection without any major personnel upgrades.

“It’s a different offense, it’s a different scheme, it’s different coaches, it’s a different offseason,” coach Mike Mularkey said back then. “There are a lot of different things going on. We run a different offense here and we will do what we have to do to protect him.”

Injuries have made things difficult, and if they are missing Nwaneri or he’s not himself, that will be the newest problem.

Beyond Jones-Drew, Gabbert and Nwaneri there are other injury concerns.

Linebacker Daryl Smith (groin) is still unlikely to return and safety Dwight Lowery is expected to miss a second game because of a knee injury. Cornerback Rashean Mathis has a slight groin pull.

Still, the idea that a different offense under different coaches would make a big difference has proven to be false. And doing what they have to do to protect Gabbert amounts to keeping too many people in, when the team needs more people out on routes.

The idea that the same group with the same position coach, Andy Heck, was going to produce different results serves as yet another example of the team inaccurately evaluating and assessing what it had and what it would be able to do with it.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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