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Jaguars failing to meet lowered expectations

Jaguars head coach Del Rio takes a deep breath following the team's third fumble during the first half of their NFL football game against the Ravens in Jacksonville

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio (L) takes a deep breath following the team’s third fumble during the first half of their NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Jacksonville, Florida October 24, 2011. REUTERS/Daron Dean (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


PFT is looking at every team’s state of the franchise during their bye week.

We looked at Carolina earlier this week. Now up: The Jacksonville Jaguars.

Lowered expectations won’t cut it

The minute Jack Del Rio cut David Garrard, there were lowered expectations for this Jaguars team. When Del Rio went to rookie Blaine Gabbert in Week 3, the bar was set even lower.

That isn’t likely to help Del Rio keep his job.

Everything was building towards 2011. The team spent a lot of money in free agency. It’s year three of G.M. Gene Smith’s rebuilding plan. The Jaguars are competitive, but 2-6 is 2-6.

Gabbert giving cause for concern

Yes, he’s a rookie. Struggles are to be expected. Then again, Cam Newton, Christian Ponder, and Andy Dalton are rookies as well. They are all playing much better.

Gabbert’s play has regressed as the season has worn on. There hasn’t really been one game or moment for him where he’s looked like a franchise quarterback. The team hasn’t passed for 100 net yards in three weeks.

Excuses aplenty abound. He doesn’t have great weapons. Sometimes you have to trust your eyes, however. Gabbert looks a lot more like Jimmy Clausen or J.P. Losman than a promising prospect.

Linebacker group stands out

I had my doubts whether the Jaguars made wise investments by handing out so much money in free agency this year. I was wrong.

Paul Posluszny has been terrific. Combine him with Daryl Smith and free agent pickup Clint Session and the Jaguars have one of the best linebacker crews in the league.

Defense doing its job

This is a playoff-caliber defense. The secondary has settled down. The pass rush isn’t great, but the team is tenth in points allowed and seventh in yards allowed. They are very tough to run against.

Disappointing core players

Aaron Kampman signed a huge contract two years ago and hasn’t been healthy enough to be a factor. Tight end Marcedes Lewis signed a big long-term deal and isn’t making much of an impact.

Most alarming is the play of defensive tackle Tyson Alualu. He looked like one of the best young players at his position last year, but has struggled big time this season. Terrence “Pot Roast” Knighton has been far more effective.

Winnable games ahead

The Jaguars face the Colts and Browns on the road coming off the bye. Those are teams Jacksonville can beat.

Still it’s hard to see the Jaguars winning more than 5-6 games this year. Taking a step back well below .500 isn’t going to work for Del Rio. He needs to win now.

Not only are the Jaguars bad, they are boring. That’s a rough combination in a town trying to sell tickets.