A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 37-3 loss to Indianapolis:
Staying with Gabbert: Blaine Gabbert has thrown five interceptions and has led the offense to just three points in two home games this season, but Jaguars coach Gus Bradley is sticking with him as the team’s starting quarterback. Gabbert has a 5-21 record as a starter and has shown little progress since he was selected 10th overall in the 2011 draft, but Bradley wants to see more of Gabbert in the team’s current system before making any judgments about his future with the team. “I know you say, ‘Gus, we’ve waited to see,’ but I’ve got to see it,” Bradley said. He said some of the issues on Sunday may have been receivers not finishing routes, plus all three interceptions came after receivers bobbled passes.
No help: With Marcedes Lewis’ return lasting just the first series before he had to leave the game after reinjuring his calf, the Jaguars were again without any complementary playmakers to receiver Cecil Shorts. It’s one of the offense’s main problems because teams are able to roll coverages toward Shorts and force Gabbert to beat them with the other receivers -- two of whom were signed from the practice squad on Saturday. It didn’t work, obviously. Gabbert completed just five passes to other wide receivers (four to Ace Sanders, one to Jeremy Ebert). Justin Blackmon returns this week from a four-game suspension, so that should help, but Lewis’ absence is still significant.
TE troubles: The Jaguars again struggled to cover the tight end. Coby Fleener caught five passes for 77 yards and one touchdown, a 31-yarder in which he was wide open. Depending on the defense called, responsibility for the tight end falls to a linebacker, safety or nickel back. Regardless of which player had responsibility, there have been mistakes that resulted in big plays. As good as he is against the run, linebacker Paul Posluszny sometimes struggles in coverage, and the Jaguars started a pair of rookies at safety against the Colts. Through four games, tight ends have caught 20 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns. The Seahawks' and Colts' tight ends combined to catch 14 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns.
Discipline problem: It’s not the fact that the Jaguars committed nine penalties for 65 yards that’s troubling. It’s the kinds of penalties that are the issue. Eight of the nine were discipline penalties: four defensive offside/encroachment, one illegal substitution, one false start, one roughing the passer, and one unsportsmanlike conduct. Those are mental mistakes that are avoidable. Jason Babin committed three, including lining up offside twice. The Jaguars aren’t close to being talented enough to be able to overcome mistakes like that, especially against a quarterback like Andrew Luck. “We cannot have that as part of our game,” Bradley said. “Obviously our players aren’t getting the message, and that’s on me.”