JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars very likely have a coaching change coming. Their GM isn’t under contract for next season. They pulled their rookie starting quarterback in the course of Sunday’s 20-13 loss to Houston that dropped their record to 3-8.
So how do they hold things together moving forward for five more games?
“A lot of things are going against us right now, that’s for sure,” said veteran linebacker Paul Posluszny, whose high-level play continued with seven tackles and a forced fumble. “But for this team, we’ve still got to be able to compete til the very end. We’re professionals, we’re going to act like it, we’re going to do our job to the best of our abilities regardless of the situation.”
Jack Del Rio pulled Blaine Gabbert in favor of Luke McCownwith roughly 7 minutes left in the game, searching for a spark. A coach who seemingly passed the buck to offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter a week ago for poor play-calling and clock management at the end of last week’s loss in Cleveland said this move was all his.
The Jaguars pulled within a score, but couldn’t convert a fourth-and-2 at the Houston 40 with 1:16 left.
Del Rio indicated Gabbert is his starting quarterback until he says otherwise, but of course, he could say otherwise at any time.
“When he was called on, he went in there and gave us a spark,” Del Rio said of McCown.
Gabbert made some good throws and led a great second-quarter drive with consecutive passes of 31 yards to running back Maurice Jones-Drew, 25 yards to rookie receiver Cecil Shorts and 14 yards to Marcedes Lewis. But then from the 3, they couldn’t punch it in as Lewis dropped an easy touchdown.
Perhaps only on a subconscious level the Jaguars deflated after the resulting field goal that put them ahead 10-7, and the Texans got better.
Jacksonville didn’t have a drive longer than eight plays after that. Eight of their 10 subsequent possessions ended with a punt, a turnover or on downs.
“It’s a tough situation for him,” Posluszny said of Gabbert. “Blaine is our guy. He’s the quarterback. He’s the quarterback of the future for this team. Obviously he didn’t play as well as he wanted to, so they made a switch.”
Gabbert and McCown combined to be sacked seven times, with four coming from Texans outside linebacker Connor Barwin, who made it a tough day for right tackle Guy Whimper. Per ESPN Stats and Info, Jaguars' quarterbacks were under duress on 18 of 49 dropbacks (36.7 percent). That number was 25.9 percent for the season coming into the game. Duress is either forced to move from the pocket, throwing motion altered due to pressure or a defender had a clear path in the quarterback's line of sight.
Maurice Jones-Drew said he and everyone on offense took the quarterback change personally.
“When they pull your quarterback, they are saying something about you,” he said. “We have to continue to work to get better.”
Gabbert had a post-game demeanor befitting a guy who had a bad day and was benched. McCown said the 10th overall pick in the draft has a great willingness to work hard to get improve.
"He's growing, he's getting better," McCown said. "We've just got to hang with him."
That was conveyed to Gabbert.
“I think it’s why we are all here, I think it’s why we are all in the NFL,” he said. “We worked hard to get here and we’re working hard to stay here.”