Show Me My Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars


For this weeks edition of SMMO, I was able to get some time with the editor of Fansided’s Jacksonville Jaguars blog, Andrew Hofheimer. I asked him a few questions about his team and the game on Sunday, here’s what he said.How are Jaguar fans reacting to moving on from Garrard so soon? Is Blaine Gabbert ready yet?

"During the preseason, everyone was calling for Garrard’s head. Then after he was cut, everyone is proclaiming what a great quarterback he is and how we don’t stand a chance to win without him – so is the nature of fans. But the truth of the matter is the coaches felt that Garrard wouldn’t perform this year at the level we needed him to and expected him to and that we stood a better chance to win with McCown and Gabbert. So far, Gabbert doesn’t have impressive statistics but very much looks the part of an NFL quarterback. He throws a beautiful spiral, has a lighting-quick release, and looks comfortable in the pocket and in his budding role as the leader of this team. He and his receivers are still getting used to each other and building the rapport necessary for a well-executed offense. There’s a lot to like about Garrard and the future looks bright."

What are the Jaguars biggest areas of concern?

"The Jaguars biggest concerns right now are in the passing game. Right now, our passing offense just isn’t at a level where we can expect to win consistently; for that to happen, Blaine needs to develop, we need more credible receiving threats, and the pass protection needs to improve a bit. On the other side of the ball, we need more pass rushing from out defensive ends. Hopefully, Aaron Kampman returns at full strength and can be that guy for a few more years, but look for the Jaguars to seek help at DE in next year’s draft."

How have injuries affected the Jaguars roster for the 2011 NFL season?

"Kampman has been the big one – he’s an every-downs guy and brings the pass rush to our defensive that we haven’t acheived yet with other players. Plus, he is the emotional leader of the defense and always seems to take the guys around him up a notch when he’s in the game. On the offensive side, TE Zach Miller and RB Rashad Jennings were supposed to be significant contributors this year, but Miller has been out with various ailments and Jennings was put on IR before the season started."

What draft picks/ free agent signings will have the biggest impact on the Jaguars?

"Free agent signings Dawan Landry, Paul Posluszny, and Matt Roth have all plugged right in and made the defense a stronger unit, especially against the run. As far as draftees, Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton are already playing at a high level and will be the cornerstone of our defensive for a long time. Offensive tackles Eugene Monroe and Eben Britten, our 2009 1st and 2nd round picks, still have some room to develop and hopefully solidify the offensive line moving forward. But make no mistake, Blaine Gabbert is the big one and the future of this team rests on his shoulders – if he develops into the stud the coaches think he can be, it should be smooth sailing in Jville for a long time."

What are the overall expectations for the Jaguars  2011 season?

"The expectations going into the season were that we would have an improved defense and a functional offense built around our strong running game and that we would compete for the AFC South division title. David Garrard‘s shortcomings before the season changed a lot of that – all of a sudden, we didn’t have the capable veteran to lead the offense that we thought we would. This was not a money decision, Garrard simply looked terrible and uncommitted in the preseason and the coaches didn’t see him as an improvement over the other QB’s on the roster. Expectations now are that Blaine Gabbert develops and improves and goes into 2012 looking ready to lead this team to the playoffs. If he can learn quickly and make us competitive in the second half, hopefully we can get in the wild card mix. We’ll see…"

What is your game-day prediction?

"My prediction is that we see a solid matchup of two very similar teams. Lots of running, good defense, and two capable rookies battling it out.Final Score: Jaguars 20, Bengals 13"