Saints oust Jaguars in Gabbert's home opener

Spinnaker

Second-time starter Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville Jaguars couldn’t overcome a potent New Orleans offense at Everbank Field Oct. 2, losing 23-10.

Drew Brees passed for over 350 yards and Darren Sproles had 188 all-purpose yards in the victory over a Jacksonville offense that continues to struggle to find its identity.

“We can’t score ten points a game and expect to win,” said Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio.

Jacksonville (1-3) attempted 42 passes with their rookie quarterback, second most in a game all season while rushing only 17 times. That was a change in attitude from their first three games, when the Jaguars were a run first team, running over 55 percent of the time.

However, the Jags came into the game against the NFL’s 27th ranked pass defense ready to open things up.

“We saw some things we could attack offensively in the passing game,” said running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

Jones-Drew rushed 11 times for 84 yards, all coming in the second half. The NFL’s leading rusher coming into the game, Jones-Drew finally broke through on a 41 yard run up the middle with ten minutes and change left in the third quarter.

However, that drive was spoiled by Gabbert’s biggest miscue of the game, an interception.

 

Drew Brees and the Saints started out hot, scoring a touchdown on each of their first two possessions.

Tight end Jimmy Graham led the way receiving for New Orleans, with 10 catches for 132 yards.

Jacksonville answered with a 12 play, 80-yard drive of their own, eating up seven and a half minutes to cut their deficit in half.

As the defenses settled down in the second quarter, it looked as if the 14-7 score might hold until halftime when linebacker Daryl Smith jumped on a Brees pass in Saints territory to set up the Jaguars at the 13-yard line.

Three incomplete passes later, Josh Scobee trotted on to put the last points of the half on the board, closing the gap to 14-10.

“If you take that turnover and turn it into seven, really could have turned the game around,” said head coach Jack Del Rio.

The missed opportunity irked Jacksonville’s pro bowl running back.

“Getting the ball on the 15 or so and not scoring, we can’t do that,” Jones-Drew said.

New Orleans put together a 60 yard drive to open the third period that quelled any Jaguar momentum, extending their lead to ten, before Gabbert’s pick gave the Saints momentum of their own that Jacksonville would never get back.

“I can’t make every throw, I have to check it down to Maurice,” said quarterback Blaine Gabbert about the interception.

Execution, not preperation, was the scapegoat after the game.

“Preperation is not an issue with this team, we knew what the defense was doing every single step,” Gabbert said.

Gabbert finished 16 for 42 with 196 yards, with one touchdown and one pick in his first home start.

The talent is there, it’s just a matter of putting it all together, said Jones-Drew.

“We just have to execute. If our job is to block, we have to block, if our job is to run, we have to run, if our job is to pass, we have to pass,” he said.

Despite the loss, the Jaguars saw some good things from their young quarterback that give them confidence going forward, and Del Rio doesn’t plan on changing his signal caller.

“The passing game looked great in spurts,” Jones-Drew said.

Gabbert continues to adjust to the speed of the NFL week to week.

“Football is football. The speed of the games is the same. The difference is the best player on the field is every player on the field in the NFL,” he said.

The second quarter of the season begins next week at Everbank Field for the Jaguars, as they take on the Bengals (2-2), who are coming off an upset win over the previously undefeated Bills.

New Orleans (3-1) travels to Carolina to take on the Panthers (1-3).