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What we learned

Posted Jan 2, 2012

Some things we learned from the season finale

Here’s what we learned from the Jaguars’ 19-13 victory over the Indianapolis Colts Sunday.

Some of it’s good, some of it’s bad, but here it is.

1) Jeremy Mincey likes playing Indianapolis. The Jaguars’ fourth-year veteran defensive end had a team-high eight sacks this season. Five came against the Colts. On Sunday, he had 2.5 more and his sack/fumble in the second half came on what has become Mincey’s specialty – a bull rush finished by getting off the block and making contact with the quarterback.

2) Maurice Jones-Drew is the best running back in the NFL. We knew that already, but it became official Sunday – for this year, certainly. Jones-Drew finished the season with a franchise-record 1,606 yards rushing. That means he averaged more than 100 yards per game, the standard for memorable rushing seasons. This season, no other back was close.

3) Jones -Drew is key to the Jaguars’ offense. Well, duh, but once again Jones-Drew accounted for the majority of the Jaguars’ offense. On Sunday, he rushed for 169 yards and had four yards receiving. That means he had 173 yards offense while the Jaguars had 261 total yards. He had more than 50 percent of the Jaguars’ total offense in eight of 16 games, and his 66.3 percent of the offense Sunday was his biggest percentage of the season.

4) Jones-Drew didn’t need a pitch count, after all. Remember? The Jaguars started the season trying to budget Jones-Drew’s carries after off-season knee surgery. As it turned out, he rushed 343 times – two shy of Fred Taylor’s franchise record set in 2003.

5) The passing offense still needs work. What began true this season remained true. The Jaguars’ offense finished 32nd in the NFL in passing, and on the final day of the season it produced 92 yards.

6) Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert made progress by season’s end. The Jaguars didn’t ask much of Gabbert Sunday. With the rushing offense effective, he passed just 19 times, completing 11 and finishing with 92 yards and a touchdown. Still, over the last four or five games of the season he progressed and his 23-yard touchdown pass to Chastin West in the fourth quarter Sunday again showed his potential. There’s a long way to go, but it’s a manageable journey.

7) The Jaguars will have the No. 7 overall selection in the NFL Draft. That’s decided after Sunday. Don’t whine about the Jaguars picking later because of the victory. You play to win and there’s a long way before the draft. You don’t know what draft day will bring. Besides, you can’t convince NFL players to play to lose – even if you wanted to try.

8) The Jaguars’ defense is good. How good? The defense finished sixth in the NFL in yards allowed, and that’s with 18 defensive players on injured reserve at the end of the season. The defense had a goal of finishing in the Top 10, and it attained it. That’s impressive considering it ranked 29th in the NFL last season.

9) The receivers must improve. We’ve gone over and over the whos and whys. The off-season will bring change here, and it’s needed.

10) The Wayne Weaver era is over. Well, we knew that already, but it is. On Wednesday, the Shahid Khan era officially begins. The first step is deciding a coach, so really, the season won’t be ending, but just sort of shifting into another gear. That’s fine. Time to get started, but Sunday was a nice way to finish out Weaver’s 18 years as owner. Weaver is a class act who cared about the Jaguars and the city. He didn’t just own the Jaguars. He essentially founded them

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