Thanks to Shane Clemons of The Jaggernaut, who was kind enough to answer our questions about the Jaguars. Since the Jags are a division rival, many of my questions for him are about the future of that organization.
Total Titans: The Jaguars have 23 players on Injured Reserve, including 9 defensive backs. A lot of the players who will start this week didn’t play or weren’t even on the team when the Jaguars and Titans met in Week One. Which of these players are doing well? Which ones are liabilities?
The Jaggernaut: The Jaguars secondary has been hit incredibly hard by injuries, so we’re obviously going to be keeping an eye on them. Ashton Youboty is the guy to keep an eye on because he’s been great and terrible, sometimes in the same game. He’s a guy that the Titans should be able to exploit for some big games, but he’s also able to jump a pass here and there for a big play going the Jaguars’ way.
TT: Chris Johnson hasn’t had a good year, so a lot of Titans fans are curious about this. How has Maurice Jones-Drew managed to rush so well with a mediocre o-line and with opposing defenses stacked against him? Is it as simple as his ability to break tackles or is there more to it than that?
TJ: The biggest difference between Johnson and Jones-Drew that I see is that Jones-Drew gets north and south much quicker than Johnson has. Johnson is a guy that needs holes to get moving. Once he’s north and south, it’s all over, and teams have done a good job getting to him before he makes that definitive cut. Jones-Drew has the power to drag multiple defenders forward that Johnson doesn’t, and I think that’s allowed him to rush for so many yards.
TT: Now that you’ve seen Blaine Gabbert start for most of the year, under less than ideal conditions, what are your impressions of him?
TJ: Originally I was concerned that he wasn’t progressing, especially in terms of stepping into passes. Over the past couple of weeks, he’s started to step into passes and hang onto the ball without losing his cool in the pocket. He has all the tools, just as Jake Locker does, but he also needs more time to develop, also like Locker. I think that these two guys will be the future of the division (along with Andrew Luck).
TT: The Jaguars’ new owner has pledged to keep the team in Jacksonville. Other than that, from a fan’s standpoint, what does the new ownership mean? What, if anything, are you hearing about him? Do you think he’ll be the right man for the future of the franchise?
TJ: It’s hard to judge an owner before he has even taken over, but all signs are promising. On top of saying the team is committed to Jacksonville, he’s also said he’ll do whatever it takes to make the Jaguars a winning franchise. He also realizes that Xs and Os aren’t his strong suit, so he won’t be too meddling in that regard. I think that change is needed from time to time, and the Jags are clearly going through a big transitional time. Ultimately, I think the moves being made in Jacksonville are good for the team and its fans because it gives off a feeling of a new beginning after a decade of very average play.
TT: What names are you hearing as the next possible head coach? What type of coach do the Jaguars need, in your opinion?
TJ: The Jaguars interim coach, Mel Tucker, has a lot of support for the open head coaching position, and I think he deserves a long, hard look considering what he’s done with a largely patchwork defense. There’s been some talk that the Jaguars will go after a big-name guy like Bill Cowher, but I think it’s far more likely that they give a young, up and coming coordinator the job. I’d be a little surprised if they didn’t hire an offensive minded coach.
Thanks again to Shane for answering our questions about the Jaguars. Shane didn’t have any questions for me this week, but be sure to check out The Jaggernaut for more info and opinion on the Jags.