Yesterday should have been Blaine Gabbert's time. With 20 seconds left on the clock, he had just led the Jaguars on an improbable touchdown drive, securing a Jaguars victory and a quick start to the 2012 campaign.
But the defense let him down.
Let's face it. Last year, the Jaguars' defense kept them in a lot of games. They didn't pull many of those games out, but they were competitive. Yesterday, the unit that had kept them close most of 2011 melted down, and it was painful to watch.
The meltdown began at the end of the second quarter when Christian Ponder and Co. marched down the field for a touchdown, making the halftime score 9-7 in favor of the Jaguars. The meltdown continued in the second half.
Blaine Gabbert's performance should have been good enough, but the Jaguars weren't able to cover, defend the run or generate a pass rush following the Vikings' first score of the game.
Mike Mularkey may be able to find a moral victory in a tough loss, but moral victories don't get you into the playoffs.
As with almost all early season games, there is a silver lining in an otherwise depressing game. The Jaguars offense looked more than competent against the Vikings. I wouldn't go so far as calling their offense "proficient" just yet, but it's a great start, especially for Blaine Gabbert. Also, the Jaguars will play the Houston Texans next weekend for a share of the divisional lead -- also good.
The down side is that there are suddenly far too many questions on the defensive side of the ball. The Jaguars didn't shut down the running game, they didn't cover receivers well and there was no pass rush to speak of. Against the Texans, those issues can only be magnified.
This was the first game of the season. There's no reason to panic just yet, but there does need to be some urgency from the Jaguars. An 0-2 start is a poor way to start a season.