This week I had the opportunity to interview a prominent Jaguars fan on Twitter, @DownerJagFan about the team. An occasional contributor to SB Nation’s Jacksonville community, Big Cat Country and owner of his own blog, @DownerJagFan was gracious enough to accept my request to answer some questions.
1. So… Chad Henne, huh? He’s done well the past few games. What’s he bringing to the table that Gabbert was unable to?
I think the most important difference between Henne and Gabbert is that Henne is willing to make more “risky” throws. He’s thrown the ball downfield more but also has thrown the ball into tight coverage. So far the receivers have made this pay off for Henne with good catches and yards after the catch.
2. The Jaguars claimed Jason Babin on Wednesday, a day after his release from the Eagles. Congrats, I guess, since apparently the Bills also put a claim in for his services… Anyway, how do you see him fitting into what the Jaguars are currently doing on defense?
Since Babin just played for the Eagles on Monday Night Football, I’m guessing that they’ll probably line him up mainly on 3rd down and in passing situations where they can tell him to just go after the QB. If he can get pressure that will be a big improvement over anybody else we have on the team right now. In the future, I’m sure he’ll play more than just in passing situations, but let’s face it – sacks are what the Jaguars want from him.
3. Paul Posluszny was always a somewhat polarizing figure here in Buffalo. One group of fans would commend him for how he always led the team in tackles, while others would be quick to point out that those tackles were often 5, 6, or 7 yards past the line of scrimmage. Is there a general consensus among Jaguars fans regarding #51?
It seems like Jaguars fans are mostly supportive of Posluszny. He’s really the only starting-caliber linebacker for the Jags this year with Clint Session probably done with football after lingering concussion issues and Daryl Smith yet to take a snap with a season-long groin issue. Even last year though, he seemed to match well what Defensive Coordinator want the middle linebacker to be and he has been embraced by the fans here. Fans love stuff like this –> (see attached picture)
4. In 2010, Buffalo went 4-12 (Chan Gailey’s first year as head coach). While it was a frustrating experience for the fans, most held to the notion that the team was rebuilding and that things would turn around in the next year or so — which hasn’t really been the case, but regardless — with the Jaguars at 2-9, and this being Mike Mularkey’s first year at the helm, what’s going on in the heads of Jaguars fans?
A lot of fans are ready to dump the entire football side of things: GM, coaches, etc. GM Gene Smith is blamed for the problems here, though. The team lacks the talent to compete at a high level, a fact that Smith readily admits. The main problem for him is the Blaine Gabbert pick. For Smith to move up for a QB that turned out to be a developmental project was the wrong move. It seems like Mularkey is moving toward Henne with direct comments indicating that he can secure the starter position with good play in these last few games. Some fans want Mularkey to be a one-and-done coach, but I think most would accept him back if the newly-hired GM want s to retain the staff.
5. Bills fans on the whole pretty much despise the Toronto series, where a “home” game is played at Rogers Centre every year. The Jaguars will enter a similar pact with the city of London beginning next season, and running through 2016. Thoughts?
A lot of fans are nervous that this might be the first step toward a move to London if the NFL decides to actually expand overseas and are nervous about the deal. Others are just upset that we’ll only have 7 home games and have given away an attractive matchup with the 49ers to London. I do think that some fans are hopeful the series will accomplish what Shad Khan says it will accomplish: raising the profile and the marketability of the team. The agreement the team made offers the team the ability to directly and individually market the Jaguars in London, quite a benefit. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to miss that 8th game, though.
6. The top receiving threat for Jacksonville appears not to be free agent acquisition Laurent Robinson or first round draft pick Justin Blackmon, but some dude named Cecil Shorts. What’s the story there?
Shorts turned heads last year in training camp. Many in the media predicted that he might break out last year and become the team’s number one threat. Unfortunately, he was a rookie receiver with an ineffective receivers coach (who was fired after Del Rio was fired) on a dysfunctional team. He finished last season with 2 catches. he looked good this year but was not thought of as a starter candidate with Robinson and Blackmon on the roster. However, besides taking advantage of the opportunities he had due to Robinson’s injury, he really has earned his starting role. His big-play ability has been evident from week 1. He has over a 20-yard-per-catch average and has 4 receiving TDs of over 50 yards this year, a feat that no other Jaguars receiver has accomplished. Looks like this 4th round, Division III receiver was actually one of Gene Smith’s good picks.
7. Prediction for Sunday?
The offense really has come to life the last two weeks and has injected energy back into the team. The offense looks respectable and Henne has played very well. The Jaguars have played well in all of their road games this year. Three of the five away games have gone to OT, but the Jags have lost them. The one road win came with a late, 80-yard TD to Cecil Shorts with seconds left on the clock versus the Colts. Even in Green Bay, the team played well and only lost hope late in the fourth quarter. So I predict a close game. The problem for the Jags is that they seem unable to protect the QB, allowing 7 sacks last week. I think the Bills Defensive Line continues to give the offense problems pass blocking. Blackmon and Shorts missed practice Thursday with injuries, as well. Mostly, I think the Jaguars defense will have trouble like they have with just about everybody they faced. It really might be a game that comes down to who has the ball last.
The Jaguars haven’t won two games in a row since December 2010. I think the streak continues this week :/
Bills 28, Jaguars 24
Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions! I read somewhere this week that the Bills still have a 4% chance of actually making the playoffs this year, so I guess I’m hoping you’re right. ;)