Behind Enemy Lines: With Jaguars 101
Patrick D. Starr
On part one of our weekly installment of Behind Enemy Lines, we asked Brendan Sonnone from Jaguars 101 to help us get a better insight on the Jacksonville Jaguars and what to expect this upcoming Sunday at Reliant. We talk about the Jags new D, MJD, Jack Del Rio and "Pot Roast"
What can you tell me about the new defensive additions to the Jags defense and how they have helped.
The Jaguars spent a lot of money on defensive players this offseason
and it's paid off so far. Linebacker was a huge concern for the team
and GM Gene Smith upgraded it by bringing in middle linebacker Paul
Posluszny and outside linebacker Clint Session. Originally, I though
that Session was the better addition and Posluszny would be an average
pickup, but it's been the opposite of that. Posluszny has been a
tackling machine (59 so far) and he really has been a great fit.
Session on the other hand has battled an elbow injury for most of the
season, but even before that he wasn't playing much because the
Jaguars were using their nickel package quite a bit. Dawan Landry,
another free agent signing, has been solid at safety. However, the
best addition to the defense in my mind has been safety Dwight Lowery.
The Jaguars traded for him right before the season started and he's
been fantastic. He's an instinctual cover guy who can also deliver a
big hit. His presence has made everyone else better, he's changed the
complexion of the defense, making an above average unit very good.
Is this Jack Del Rio's final year and if so why?
It's looking that way. The only way he stays is if the Jaguars make
the playoffs. Their at 2-5 right now and have lost some close ones,
but the offense is so bad that I can't see the team fighting its way
to the top of a mediocre AFC South division. Del Rio just hasn't
established a winning mindset during his time in Jacksonville. That
lack of consistency eventually lead to his downfall.
Is Maurice Jones-Drew the Jags only form of offense?
Yes. The Jaguars' passing attack is putrid at this point. Blaine
Gabbert is struggling with his footwork and that's impact every throw
he makes. And when he has been on, his receivers haven't really
stepped up. Jones-Drew has been the workhorse everyone thought he'd
have to be this season and he's not getting any help. Teams are
stacking the box and forcing MJD to beat them. He does a nice job
pushing the pile and breaks one free every now and then, but it's
clear that he can't do it all by himself.
Did the Jags make a mistake by letting go of David Garrard and not give Blaine Gabbert time to learn?
It's tough to answer that with a straight 'yes' or 'no'. I think this
team would be better with Garrard at quarterback right now, but would
they be a playoff team? Probably not. Garrard was out of shape coming
into camp and hasn't progressed since he took over as the team's
starter a few years back. I think it was the right move to let him
go...he was making rookie mistakes in his 30s, so the Jaguars might as
well let a rookie make the rookie mistakes and learn from it. And if
you're a franchise, there's nothing worse than going 8-8. You don't
make the playoffs and don't get a good draft pick. In the long run, I
think getting rid of Garrard was for the best. Luke McCown was
supposed to be a game manager and give Gabbert time to grow, but that
didn't happen. That's what really made a mess of the QB situation.
Who are some not so household names on the Jags roster that Texans fans might know of.
One guy who is starting to get a lot of recognition is DT Terrance
Knighton, aka "Pot Roast." At 6-3, 335, he's tough to move and demands
double teams. He's what makes the defense click and is a Pro Bowl
caliber player right now. Along side of him his defensive end Jeremy
Mincey. He's brought a lot of energy to the front line and while he
isn't a sack machine (2), he's gotten a lot of pressure, which is
something the Jaguars have struggled with in the past. I would say
defensive end John Chick is a guy to note too, but he's not playing
this week due to an injury. One more guy to note offensively is Jason
Hill. The Jaguars picked him up mid-season last year and he's emerged
as the team's top receiver. That's not say a whole lot, but Hill has
made some big plays this year for the Jags and Houston fans shouldn't
be surprised if he makes a play or two against them.
What has happen to Marcedes Lewis this season after a breakout 2010 season?
Great question, I don't know if anyone knows the answer to that. He
got a lot of pub for his MMA training this offseason but has looked
less athletic than he did last season when he had double-digit TD
receptions. He's been targeted a few times this year but has had some
timely drops. This may be a case of a guy getting lackadaisical after
signing a big contract. Lewis spent a lot of time working out with
Garrard prior to the 2010 season, so that chemistry and current lack
of chemistry with Gabbert might factor into his decline as well.
Are Jacksonville fans scared of the rumors the Jags might be sold and moved, even though the owner has come out and said the team is not for sell?
At this point, there's not much concern. Jacksonville fans have heard
this semi-annual rumor for a while not and after a while, it kind of
loses its impact.
What do the Jags need to do to defeat the Texans on Sunday?
On defense they have to eliminate big plays. The Jaguars can slow down
Houston if their corners can keep everything in front of them like the
did against Baltimore on Monday. But then Jacksonville has to score.
Gabbert needs to settle down in the pocket. If he can calm down a
little, set his feet and deliver the ball smoothly, the Jaguars'
offense can become two-dimensional, which is what they need to win. A
balanced attack (or at least an efficient passing performance) will
make life easier for Maurice Jones-Drew and if he gets going, the
Jaguars' have a punchers chance.