In anticipation of Sunday’s 1pm game featuring the Jacksonville Jaguars visiting the New York Jets, the Jet Press sat down with Andrew Hofheimer of Black and Teal, the Jaguars blog on Fansided.com to ask a few questions about the Jaguars.
1. What’s going on at the QB position? Was Garrard’s departure a surprise and will McCown be able to run the team until Gabbert is ready?
AH – David Garrard’s departure was certainly a shock, but mostly because of the timing. He was underwhelming in the preseason and unfortunately, he never took us to the places we thought he would after the surprise 07 season and the heroic playoff victory in Pittsburgh. Blaine Gabbert is the quarterback of the future and make no mistake, he will be starting for the Jaguars as soon as he’s ready. Luke McCown’s a better quarterback than people think; the Jaguars will be conservative with him at first, but as he makes more throws and shows more confidence, they’ll start to turn him loose.
2. Maurice Jones-Drew was held to a play count this week and voiced his frustration. Do you see that as being a problem as the season goes on or is it being overblown?
AH – Absolutely not. Maurice Jones-Drew is a competitor and will always play with a chip on his shoulder – he’s a guy that wants the ball every play of the game. It’s very much his personality to voice his opinion (just ask Jay Cutler or Blaine Gabbert) and he’s got no problem telling Jack Del Rio he wants the ball. That being said, he’s reverent to his coaches’ decisions and is too professional to let it be a problem. We just want to keep him healthy and 25ish touches a game is enough for him to make an impact while preserving him for 16 or more games.
3. The Jaguars defense looked great against the Titans running game last week. How will they prepare against a Jets team that has seemed to revamp its offense to rely on the passing game more?
AH – Making the Jets one-dimensional by neutralizing the running game will be the Jags gameplan going into Sunday. The secondary still appears to be the Jaguars’ weakness in 2011 and we will be without RCB Derek Cox on Sunday. Former Jet Drew Coleman (who had a fantastic week last week) will be starting in his place. The theory behind the Jaguars’ improved rush defense is that it makes longer third downs and tougher passing situations. When it’s likely a passing down, our rushers can “tee off” more without worrying about the run and hopefully increase the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
4. Biggest player on the Jags offense? defense?
AH – Maurice Jones-Drew will always be the core of this team. He’s the personification of our team identity. Aaron Kampman will be absent this week, so defensively, Tyson Alualu is our most important player. He’s commanding more and more double teams and he’s still penetrating the backfield and disrupting opponents’ running game and passing game. Tyson is the lynchpin.
5. What’s your impression of how the Jaguars will do this season?
AH – I think we’re a team with some key young pieces and very much on the ascent. The AFC South is up for grabs with Peyton Manning’s extended absence and there’s no way anyone can just hand it to the Texans, who have proven time and time again that they’ll find ways to fail. I expect us to finish over .500, contend til the very end of the season, and I think we have a great shot at making the playoffs, if not the AFC South Champs.
6. What’s your prediction for Sunday?
AH – For the final score, I’m going to say 20-13 Jets. The Jaguars are pretty banged up and will be missing some key players on Sunday – namely CB Derek Cox, DE Aaron Kampman, and most likely, RT Eben Britton and TE Marcedes Lewis, as well. I think to the eyes, it will be a very close game, though. These teams are well matched and have a similar identity (at least ideologically) of run the ball and have a dominating defense (Jags are still building back to that). I think it will be tough for the Jaguars to score and I think we’ll give Mark Sanchez and Shonn Green plenty of trouble, but ultimately, the Jets are a premier team and I think they’ll find a way to nudge out the win.