- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An examination of four hot issues from the Jaguars’ 28-2 loss to the Chiefs:
Can Blaine Gabbert go this Sunday? Gabbert suffered a cut on the top of his right hand that required 15 stitches to close, and that puts his status for Sunday’s game at Oakland in doubt. Gabbert was able to play against the Chiefs despite still recovering from a fractured right thumb that he injured during the second preseason game. But this latest injury could be too much to overcome. Fifteen stitches is a significant number and means the cut was pretty substantial. Gabbert said the cut is near his pinkie finger, which means there shouldn’t be too much strain on the area when he throws the ball. However, there’s always a risk of tearing the cut open again. Gabbert said his thumb was not an issue against the Chiefs, but Sunday was by far the most pounding it took since it was injured. How it responds the next day or so will be telling.
Joeckel’s poor debut: It was likely a case of nerves and the fact that he was facing one of the AFC’s best pass-rushers, but right tackle Luke Joeckel didn’t look anything like a No. 2 overall draft pick. He gave up two sacks to Justin Houston, allowing the Chiefs linebacker to blow by with hardly any resistance. He also failed to execute a cut block on linebacker Tamba Hali, who ended up in perfect position to intercept Gabbert’s screen pass and return it 10 yards for a touchdown. Hali was right in Gabbert’s sight line and Gabbert shouldn’t have thrown the ball, but it was still a poor cut block. Coach Gus Bradley said Joeckel at times didn’t follow his assignments and got away from fundamentals. That’s a mistake of youth.
Playmakers have to emerge: The offensive line struggled all day, which played a huge role in the offense’s struggle (only 178 total yards) and was the main reason the Jaguars had few explosive plays. However, the Jaguars’ top playmakers weren’t able to get loose and make big plays, either. Maurice Jones-Drew gained 45 yards on 15 carries, but he had 19 yards on two of those carries. That means he averaged 2.0 yards per carry on his remaining 13 carries. Cecil Shorts finished with three catches for 40 yards, but he didn’t have his first catch until midway through the fourth quarter. Not having tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf) was unfortunate because he would have helped as a blocker, and his presence as a receiver in the middle of the field would have given Gabbert a matchup the Jaguars could have exploited.
Secondary was solid: There was a blown coverage on one touchdown pass, but overall, rookie cornerback Dwayne Gratz and rookie safety John Cyprien played pretty well in their professional debuts. Both had three tackles, and Cyprien had one of the Jaguars’ four quarterback hits. Certainly one of the day’s few bright spots.