Gabbert can't revive struggling Jaguars offense

Monday, September 26, 2011 | 9:34 p.m. CDT; updated 9:09 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 27, 2011
In the rain, Jacksonville Jaguars' quarterback Blaine Gabbert fumbles the ball in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were ruled offside on the play.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Boring, conservative, inept. Any of those would be fitting descriptions of Jacksonville's offense.

The Jaguars lead the NFL with 108 running plays, and rank near the top in rushing and sustained drives. But in a league in which 300-yard passing games have become as common as concussions, the Jaguars have fallen behind, way behind.

Coach Jack Del Rio wants to see changes.

"We were a little too conservative, quite frankly," Del Rio said Monday, a day after a 16-10 loss at Carolina. "It really wasn't the kind of look I'd like us to have. I thought we were a little too conservative and I'd like us to see us increase our aggressiveness in attacking defenses and attacking scheme and attacking personnel and going after them."

Del Rio pointed to heavy rain, rookie Blaine Gabbert's first NFL start and the fact that the Panthers played without two starting linebackers as reasons the game unfolded with 34 runs versus 21 passes.

"I think those things were all factors that played into it," Del Rio said. "But I definitely would like to see us be more aggressive, more proactive going after people."

With Drew Brees and the high-scoring New Orleans Saints (2-1) up next, it might need to happen soon.

Pounding the ball worked well in the opener as the Jaguars ran 47 times and held off Tennessee, 16-14, with a last-minute turnover. But even with stout defense and running back Maurice Jones-Drew off to his best start in six seasons — he's on pace for 1,600 yards — it hasn't been enough to offset poor passing games the last two weeks.

Luke McCown threw four interceptions and was sacked for a safety in a lopsided loss at the New York Jets last week. Del Rio switched quarterbacks three days later, turning things over to Gabbert. The 10th overall pick in April's draft, Gabbert completed 12 of 21 passes for 139 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

He also was sacked for a safety and botched three snaps. The Jaguars recovered all of them, but Gabbert called the setbacks "inexcusable."

"That's the simplest thing in football," Gabbert said.

Nothing about Jacksonville's passing game has looked easy, though.

Receivers have dropped passes, protection has been spotty and the play-calling has been archaic. The result? The Jaguars rank last in passing (126.7 yards a game) and 28th in total offense (261). The Jaguars have scored 29 points, two more than winless and woeful Kansas City, and have managed to reach the red zone just once.

"I've always been a fan of scoring more and scoring a lot," Del Rio said. "And, yeah, I would like to see that part of our football team improve dramatically."

Jacksonville's only touchdown Sunday came on a fluky play at the end of the first half.

Gabbert dropped back with 6 seconds on the clock and completed a pass to Mike Thomas at the 7-yard line. Thomas picked up a block, eluded two tacklers and sloshed into the end zone.

It was the offense's lone highlight.

Gabbert had a chance to win it for the Jaguars late, but clock mismanagement left him with one final pass that fell incomplete.

Gabbert drove the Jaguars to the 36-yard line and looked like they would have several shots at the end zone. But Gabbert and Del Rio failed to realize that the clock would start following the review, causing precious seconds to tick off before the final snap.

"I accept the responsibility for that not being done better," Del Rio said. "There were 38 seconds and we only got two snaps off. That's not good.

"We need to be able to run several plays in that situation and execute that situation much better. ... I must make sure that our staff and our 11 offensive players that are involved in that situation handle that much better. It was not acceptable. It didn't give us enough opportunities there at the end to steal that win."


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