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What we learned: Colts vs. Jaguars

Posted Nov 9, 2012

Here’s what we learned in the Jaguars' 27-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts Thursday...

1) The Jaguars have regressed. It’s hard to make any other argument. In Week 3, the Jaguars beat the Colts, 22-17, and it was more than a late pass from Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts. They outplayed the Colts the entire second half in Indianapolis. Not so Thursday. Not even close.

2) This team is baffling. OK, so maybe saying the team is baffling isn’t exactly learning anything. But this team has played well on the road – not great, but decent. At home . . . nothing. Five games, five 15-point losses. That saps the life out of a team and it just defies reason. No one knows why, but the home struggles have defined the season and the definition right now isn’t pretty.

3) Austen Lane is getting better and better. Not everyone on the Jaguars played well Thursday, and there were way too many avoidable mistakes. But Lane – a third-year veteran defensive end – has played well this season since returning from a foot injury, and he registered a sack on Thursday. There’s not a lot of lauding to be done here lately, but Lane has been laudable.

4) You need to cover Reggie Wayne. The Colts’ veteran wide receiver had eight receptions for 96 yards, and it only seemed like every one was on third down for exactly the yardage needed. There were far too many times Wayne and the rest of the Colts’ wide receivers just ran way too open.

5) Maurice Jones-Drew is missed. Rashad Jennings isn’t running nearly as well as he did in the preseason. The Jaguars’ run game was struggling the last two games in which Jones-Drew was healthy, but not like this. The Jaguars don’t need to be all-run, all-the-time, but Jones-Drew’s presence sure wouldn’t hurt about now.

6) Greg Jones is missed. You know those plays where the Jaguars just sort of will themselves to four or five yards on the ground? Without Jones, those plays don’t happen as often and that’s true whether it’s Jennings or Jones-Drew running.

7) Cecil Shorts is good . . . Shorts hasn’t played perfectly. He, like every other Jaguars receivers, has had too many drops. But he has consistently made plays more than any other Jaguars receiver, and he was within one questionable call of a huge game Thursday. As it happened, he still had a 52-yard reception and finished with his second career 100-yard game.

8) . . . and Laurent Robinson may be OK, too. A few weeks ago, there were those who were criticizing him for missing three games with a concussion. And there were fans calling him a free-agent disappointment. Well, he has played hard and taken some hits the last two games – and on Thursday he caught a career-high nine passes for 77 yards. He’s not breaking the game open, but you can’t question his effort the last two weeks.

9) The Jaguars lost their cool. The Jaguars had six personal fouls in the game, and while those penalties didn’t cost the Jaguars the game they don’t help. The team had struggled a lot this season. You don’t go 1-8 without struggling a lot. But they hadn’t often looked out of control. At times in the second half, it looked like the Jaguars weren’t sure what to do – and by trying to do too much in inappropriate situations they committed penalties. Mike Mularkey said that’s not the sort of team the Jaguars are going to be. That needs to be true. You can’t win in the NFL that way.

10) We just don’t know yet on Blaine Gabbert. Again, this isn’t exactly “What We Learned,” but reality is he’s midway through his second season as a starter. He shows flashes, and there were times on Thursday he looked really, really good. Then, there were times he throws a pass in the flat that is an easy interception. The question is, “Where will Gabbert be at the end of the season?” Right now, we just don’t know.

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