by Richard David Smith III
Much like Sunday night’s final season launch episode of Breaking Bad, the 2013 Jaguars picked up right where the 2012 edition left off. Unlike last night’s episode of Breaking Bad, however, the Jaguars picking up where they left off last year is not a good thing. The Jaguars were defeated by the Miami Dolphins, 27-3, under the appropriately shining Friday Night Lights of Everbank field.
Most football fans realize that the scoreboard is basically insignificant in the preseason but, after exhibition game numero uno, the Jaguars appear to be no closer to clearing up the quarterback situation either. Gabbert was pulled out of the game after only ten unimpressive attempts, including an interception. Why do head coaches pull players like Gabbert out of the line-up early in preseason games? In theory, coaches pull the starters early because A.) They don’t want them to get hurt and B.) They figure that the second and third-string players on the opposing defense don’t make for good enough competition. This makes sense when your starting QB is say, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, or Tom Brady. Not so much when it is the likes of the Gabbert. Chad “Less Bad” Henne played in this one as well and was…well, less bad.
The human element aside, why would a coach be worried about Gabbert getting hurt before he has even proven himself successful at the NFL level? I say leave them in and let him play, injuries be damned. The live competition—which training camp scrimmages can never completely emulate–is there for you to utilize in the form of preseason games. Since you have to be out there for the entire 60 minutes anyway, why not use these otherwise meaningless games to your advantage?
In the post-game press conference, I asked Coach Bradley if, going forward, he would consider going against convention and leave his starters in longer in preseason games until they showed improvement, to which he replied, “You have to be careful about promising playing time. I want both [Gabbert and Henne] to get equal time with the starters.”
Positives: Jaguars defense looked adequate against the Dolphins first-string offense….Coach Bradley maintained a positive attitude and displayed his no-nonsense coaching chops early when corralling Justin Blackmon after Blackmon (on the sideline with a groin injury) continued to inexplicably taunt Dolphins cornerback Nolan Campbell in the second quarter. Offensive Weapon Denard Robinson got in some snaps out of the halfback position and surprisingly led the team in carries with 9, recording an encouraging 3.6 yards per carry on the night.
Negatives: A lot of players were dinged up with minor injuries. Big names Jones-Drew, Shorts III, and Blackmon were all scratches…Hands were bad on both sides of the ball. Receivers were dropping passes left and right and the defense wasn’t making enough big plays when they did get their butterfingers on the ball (with the exception of cornerback Dwayne Gratz’s INT).
It’s important to remember that this was the Jaguars’ first preseason game and the Miami Dolphins’ second–they lost to the Dallas Cowboys 24-20 on Monday, August 5, in the Hall of Fame Game. Even that slight edge in playing time may have paid off in their defeat of the Jags.
Since I sat next to a Spanish language Miami radio station broadcaster in the press box and heard this word A LOT, my one word summary for the Jaguars 2013 debut would be: “Incompleto.”
Going Forward: Next, the Jaguars travel to the Big Apple to take on the New York Jets in MetLife Stadium on Saturday night (7:30 p.m.). The Jets looked inept in their loss to the Lions (26-17) last Friday and they’re going through their own quarterback quandary deciding between Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith to start against the Big Cats. We could see more quarterbacks in this one than the corner coin laundry.