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What we learned

Posted Aug 24, 2012

Here’s what we learned from the Jaguars’ 48-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., Thursday.

1) The Jaguars aren’t invincible. Well, we knew that already, and that’s what you must remember about this game more than anything else. This isn’t a finished product. It’s a work in progress. When you’re a work in progress, you have hiccups. This was a big one.

2) Justin Blackmon is good. Really good. If you throw this guy the ball, he catches it. And he’s open. Really open. Consistently. If there is a positive that has come from this game it’s that Blackmon is going to be really good really quickly. In the big picture, that’s more important than the loss.

3) This wasn’t about leverage. Maybe we didn’t learn this, exactly, but it’s important to remember. The loss to the Ravens doesn’t change the Maurice Jones-Drew conversation. He’ll report when he decides he wants to report. Leverage wasn’t gained or lost on either side.

4) Gabbert has improved. A year ago when things went bad offensively, they often went really bad for Blaine Gabbert. Mechanics broke down, and there were long stretches of ineffectiveness. On Thursday, Gabbert’s mechanics didn’t break down and he stayed cool in the pocket. He’s still a young quarterback. There will be ups and downs. This was a down, but it wasn’t nearly as down as it would have been a year ago.

5) Rest matters. Credit the Jaguars for not using this as an excuse, but there were reasons for a sluggish performance. They were playing for a second time in six days. Both of those games were on the road. Camp has been very physical. Linebacker Paul Posluszny said he didn’t think fatigue was an issue, but it’s hard to imagine it wasn’t.

6) Camp has taken a toll. OK, so this is an extension of No. 5, but it needs to be emphasized to keep the loss in perspective. Training camp was very physical, and Mike Mularkey didn’t let up much this week. The Jaguars’ defense typically is very fast to the ball. It wasn’t Thursday, and it makes sense that fatigue would be at least part of the reason.

7) Rashad Jennings is ready. He has rushed very well in three consecutive games. Whatever happens with Jones-Drew, he’s going to be a big part of the offense this season.

8) The running game is ready, too. On a night without a lot of positives, this remained strong. Richard Murphy ran for 25 yards on six carries, and Jalen Parmele rushed five times for 23 yards.

9) The pass rush must improve. The Jaguars didn’t blitz much, if at all. That’s understandable because you don’t want to show blitzes in the preseason. Still, Joe Flacco had far too much time on far too many plays.

10) The Jaguars need Derek Cox. The cornerback is expected to return for the regular-season opener. The Jaguars need that to happen. He’s a core player on defense, and the secondary is weaker when he’s not playing.

11) Mike Thomas may be the kick returner. He had a big return for a second consecutive week, with a 36-yarder on Thursday. It looks like the kick return job is his.

12) There is work to be done. Mularkey couldn’t say it enough Thursday night. What matter is how the Jaguars respond to the loss. No team is without flaws. Thursday’s showed some of the Jaguars’. Nothing that happened wasn’t fixable. Now, it’s fix-it time.

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