Ready or not, the future is now for head coach Jack Del Rio and his Jacksonville Jaguars. With his seat down south as hot as ever, Del Rio’s hand has been forced and he has turned to rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert earlier than most people expected him to when he was taken 10th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Gabbert played well in his debut against the Carolina Panthers last sports weekend but still has a lot of work to do before he is ready to be an NFL starter. Del Rio has decided to gamble that his rookie quarterback can learn the game on the fly, and Gabbert is going to need to if the Jaguars are going to have any chance at keeping up with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints this Sunday.
New Orleans Saints @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday October 2, 2011 – 1:00 PM ET
EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
NFL Lines: New Orleans Saints – 7
Brees and the Saints have averaged 338 passing yards through their first three games of the season, and will look to keep rolling as they open up a season-high three game road trip in Jacksonville. New Orleans has struggled against the pass all year, and they need to prove that they can stop someone as they take on the Jaguars’ 32nd-ranked pass offense.
NFL Preview: New Orleans Saints It is difficult to criticize a defense that has struggled against the pass when the three quarterbacks that they have faced are Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, and Matt Schaub, but the Saints won’t have an excuse this week as they take on Gabbert and the Jaguars. Defensive coordinator Greg Williams is known as one of the best in the game, but he needs to find a way to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and creating turnovers. New Orleans could very well win this game regardless of how their defense plays if Brees and the offense can continue to dominate. The Saints emphasized improvement in the running game this year, and with the tandem of rookie Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas, they have the sports bonus weapons to pound the rock if they need to.
NFL Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars Gabbert threw for 191 yards and a touchdown in his debut against the Panthers, but also had two turnovers including a sack on his first drive that resulted in a safety. Jacksonville will need running back Maurice Jones-Drew to give the passing game more time and space by running hard fishing between the tackles, and if he can continue to rush for his season-average of 4.7 yards per carry then it should help. The Jaguars’ defense ranks in the top-10 against both the run and pass so far this season, but will be tested by the most talented offense that they would have faced to date.
NFL Preview: Outlook & Pick The Saints will simply overwhelm the Jaguars with their offense this week, and how good of a job Jacksonville does forcing turnovers and moving the ball on offense will determine whether or not they can make a game out of this. Gabbert is not ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL and it will show again this week, as New Orleans continues to prove why they deserve to be considered a legitimate contender in the NFC this season. NFL Pick: New Orleans Saints – 7.