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Jaguars off to worst offensive start since 1995

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Jaguars off to worst offensive start since 1995

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars were supposed to be better.

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert was going to learn from last year's experiences and show progress after a full offseason with coaches and teammates. The offense was going to improve with the addition of receivers Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon. The line was going to be a strength, able to consistently open holes for Maurice Jones-Drew.

Instead, the Jaguars (1-4) are off to their worst offensive start since the team's inaugural season - a woeful first five games that should have new owner Shad Khan questioning the direction of the franchise.

Jacksonville is averaging 241 yards a game this season, at the bottom of the league again.

Coach Mike Mularkey, in his first season in Jacksonville, remains optimistic things can turn around.

``I think the answers are in this building,'' Mularkey said Monday, a day after his team lost 41-3 to Chicago. ``I think they are in that locker room. They are in that staff room back there. They're in the meeting rooms, on the practice fields, during our preparation. I think the answers are all here, and we've just got a find a way to get those to transfer over to games so we can play complete games and play like we're capable of playing.''

Mularkey's last head-coaching stint also got off to a slow starts. He was in Buffalo in 2004, when the Bills started 1-4, won six consecutive games late in the season and finished 9-7.

``We didn't change. We just stuck to the plan,'' Mularkey said. ``That was not easy, either. It's not an easy task. We stayed the course, like I said here. We did some good things and what was amazing about it is, when we started to do some good things, a lot of good things just kept coming.''

A major difference, though, is that the Bills were competitive in most of those early season losses.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, have lost three home games by a combined score of 95-20.

``It's embarrassing to lose like this,'' running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. ``It's tough to swallow because it's not like we're not working hard or not giving effort.''

The Jaguars have a bye this week, offering players a chance to get away and forget about all that has gone wrong through five weeks. The coaches, meanwhile, will spend the time evaluating schemes, plays and tendencies while trying to pinpoint problems and hone in on things that have worked.

One list will be considerably longer than the other.

The Jaguars have failed to get much going on offense. Mularkey points to self-induced mistakes like penalties, dropped passes, sacks and errant throws. But good teams tend to overcome those more often than not.

For Jacksonville, the slightest problems have led to major setbacks.

Against the Bears, everything unraveled after Charles Tillman intercepted a pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown and a 13-3 lead in the third quarter.

The defense faltered, and the offense sputtered even more than usual.

The Jaguars gave up consecutive touchdown drives, and then Gabbert had another interception returned for a score. Mularkey considered turning to backup quarterback Chad Henne, but opted to give Gabbert much-needed experience in the no-huddle offense. He also reiterated that he has no plans to bench Gabbert, who has completed 55 percent of his passes for 796 yards, with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He also has been sacked 15 times.

Jacksonville wrote off Gabbert's rookie season by saying he had no offseason, a lame-duck coaching staff and not enough talent around him. Now, after three dismal home games and several key mistakes, Mularkey insists Gabbert will improve.

``Those are the lumps I am talking about that we have to take sometimes,'' Mularkey said. ``Not that we want them, but things we have to learn from. Blaine is still a young player. I think each game is going to make him a better player, and it has. We've got to help him. I'm not going to say he's where we want him. I don't think he will say that. He still has things he's got to do better.''

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Capitals enter All-Star break on sour note in Toronto as losing streak extends to seven

Capitals enter All-Star break on sour note in Toronto as losing streak extends to seven

The Capitals enter the All-Star break losers of seven straight after a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

In desperate need of a win before the All-Star Break, the Capitals kept Alex Ovechkin in the lineup delaying his one-game suspension and started Braden Holtby for the second consecutive night. Yet, the result was the same as they gave up six goals for the third straight game and for the fourth time during the current losing streak. Washington has been outscored 36-18 during the streak.

Here are four reasons the Caps lost.

Nazem Kadri

Kadri is always a thorn in the side of the Caps, most notably for his knee-on-knee hit on Alex Ovechkin in the playoffs back in 2017. He was again a pest against Washington with a hat trick for the Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

The Caps scored late in the first period, but Kadri scored with 26 seconds remaining to even the game at one. Kadri also extended Toronto’s lead to two goals for the first time at the 2:10 mark into the second period of a one-timer from the high slot. He completed the hat trick later in the third as William Nylander shot the puck, hit both posts and the puck went straight to the stick of Kardi who had an empty net yawning.

Washington has now given up a hat trick in three straight games and in four of their last five.

A quick response

A growing problem for Washington during this losing streak is allowing quick response goals. Nicklas Backstrom put the Caps on the board with less than 90 seconds remaining in the first period.

Great, Washington is headed to the locker room up 1-0, right? Not so fast.

Morgan Rielly dumped the puck and tried to pass it to the middle. Nylander kicked it back behind the net and the play should have been dead, but Michal Kempny tipped it back out to center and no one seemed to know where it was except Kadri who came streaking in and tapped it past Holtby to tie the game.

The goal came just 47 seconds after Backstrom put Washington on the board.

An untimely penalty

Ovechkin is doing just about everything he can to keep the Caps in this games and he scored again on Wednesday. But tonight's game really turned on an Ovechkin penalty in the second period.

Ovechkin was called for cross-checking Kaspari Kapanen about two minutes after Nikita Zaitsev tied the game at 2. At that point, Washington had never trailed in the game. They had yielded leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but overall were playing significantly better than they did on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.

Auston Matthews would go on to score on the resulting power play. That would be the first of three unanswered goals for Toronto.

A rough penalty kill for John Carlson

The Leafs were able to cash in on the penalty kill because of a rough shift for defenseman John Carlson. With the puck on his stick behind the net, Carlson did not try clearing the puck around the boards. Instead, he turned up ice and fired it right to John Tavares. Tavares blocked the clear and kept the puck in. Later on in the shift, Matthews was skating in looking for a shot. Carlson dropped to a knee looking for the shot block, but he was too quick. Matthews curled it around a now helpless Carlson, then fired the puck through Holtby to give Toronto a lead they would not relinquish.

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2019 NFL mock draft: Redskins roundup in the first round

2019 NFL mock draft: Redskins roundup in the first round

A quick reminder about gauging NFL mock drafts three months out before the actual fun in late April: Focus more on the position than the player.

<<GALLERY: 2019 NFL MOCK DRAFT 11.0>>

Public draft boards remain fluid and will remain in this flexible state for several weeks before hardening in early March after the Combine. Compared to pro scouts and front office personnel, outside analysts are always behind the curve. Opinions change once sources share internal projections and rumors spread.

There is also more time for homework on a concentrated batch rather than all of college football.

Alabama safety Deionte Thompson lived in the top 10 before the college football playoffs. Two games later, mock drafters dropped him into the 20’s after struggles against Oklahoma and Clemson. Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen, Oklahoma guard Cody Ford, Kansas State offensive lineman Dalton Risner and Alabama running back Josh Jacobs are among the prospects positively trending.

Team needs, however, remain stable for weeks, outside of the rogue trade or contract extension. Clubs are not permitted to enter into contract negotiations with unrestricted free agents until March 11.

With the knowledge of strengths and weaknesses, study how many players at a position of interest are mocked with a general range of your team’s selection. This is more important for now than a specific prospect at a precise draft slot.

Now, it wouldn't be kosher to put entire mock drafts from other entities on our site (Click here for my latest full two-round mock draft).

Instead, here’s a sampling of what football thinkers are envisioning for the Redskins in the first round.

CBS and USA Today: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

We have a trade. CBS moves the Redskins to the Green Bay’s selection at 12, while USA Today jumps Washington all the way to nine via Buffalo. Both scenarios have Washington selecting a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback reared in the Big 12 Conference. Apologies for the Robert Griffin III flashbacks.

As discussed here, the Redskins may at least need to jump Denver at 10 and Miami at 13 for a passer, assuming Murray or Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins slip past the Giants (6) and Jaguars (7).

NFL.com: Malcolm Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Pro Football Focus: JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford

Analyst Daniel Jeremiah states Brown, a true speed threat, makes for a “tempting” option assuming Washington sorts out its quarterback situation. PFF’s Steve Palazzolo writes Washington “needs to replenish their receiving corps and Arcega-Whiteside has one of the best combinations of body control and contested-catch skills in the draft.”

All fair points, but consider me a tad dubious about the Redskins going with a pass catcher at 15. The Redskins certainly need receiver help and more offensive playmakers overall. Adding a veteran ready to help meshes more with a coaching staff and perhaps front office likely putting more of a premium on immediate success after missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season. If slot target Jamison Crowder re-signs, that may eat up any remaining dollars directed for a receiver.

ESPN: Jachai Polite, OLB, Florida

Mel Kiper Jr. sends an edge rusher to Ashburn, specifically Florida’s Jachai Polite, who finished with 11 sacks this season. This need races to the top of Washington’s list should the team move on from free agent Preston Smith, and does not believe 2017 second-round pick Ryan Anderson can handle the gig.

SB Nation: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

“There are a number areas Washington could address with the No. 15 pick,” writes Dan Kadar. “Cornerback is one of them, and Murphy is pro-ready corner thanks to his instincts and ability to play the ball in the air.”

Again, fair points, and Murphy’s cover skills have some league voice considering him the draft’s top corner ahead of LSU’s Greedy Williams. However…

The Redskins could not really justify a corner in the first round if Josh Norman stays. Now, should they decide the high-priced defender provides more value as a salary cap casualty, then corner becomes a screaming need. It also looks like there will be a handful of corners potentially around on Day 2, including Clemson's Trayvon Mullen.

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