Behind Enemy Lines: Jacksonville

Bucs expert Matthew Postins and Jaguars expert Charlie Bernstein begin their pregame breakdown of the Buccaneers-Jaguars matchup in this edition of "Behind Enemy Lines," discussing the Jags' QB situation, the progress of safety Reggie Nelson and why the Jags' defense is No. 1 in fewest touchdowns allowed.

Matthew Postins: Obviously, the potential loss of David Garrard will be a major storyline this week. So this question features several parts. First, will Garrard play? Second, was Quinn Gray's play on Monday night an indication of what to expect from him if he plays. And, third, just how much do you expect the Jaguars to rely on their running game in Garrard's absence?

Charlie Bernstein: First, it doesn't appear as if David Garrard will play for at least a few weeks, so he is expected to be ruled out of this Sunday's game.

Nobody really knows much about Quinn Gray. Gray has looked fantastic each and every preseason that he's been in Jacksonville, but he hasn't played against first string defenses for any extended period of time. Gray looked good last season in mop-up duty in the finale at Kansas City, but the Chiefs were playing very soft with a big lead. I suspect that Gray is a little better than what he showed on Monday night, but I don't think he should be confused with a NFL caliber starting quarterback anytime soon.

The Jaguars are a run first type of physical team when Garrard is their quarterback, so I would expect them to lean even more heavily against their powerful running game.

MP: What's up with the Matt   Jones situation? I was surprised to learn that he was used as the third quarterback on Monday night and that he's been inactive the past two games. Are the Jags souring on their former first-round pick?

CB: The feeling around Jacksonville is that Matt Jones is a bust. He is a very athletic guy, but he plays soft, doesn't block on running plays, and doesn't run his routes hard if he's not the primary option. He's been showing a lack of effort and the team can't afford to have active on gameday. Unless some kind of miraculous rebirth happens to Matt, this will be his final year in Jacksonville, and maybe in the NFL.

MP : Even after the loss to Indianapolis, the Jaguars ranked No. 1 in the NFL in fewest touchdowns allowed and No. 2 in points allowed. But their total yardage numbers against the run and pass are rather middling. How do you account for this defense's ability to keep teams out of the end zone?

CB: The Jaguars employ a "bend but don't break" defensive philosophy, and they are very good against the run, especially in goal line situations. They lack some speed at the safety position in Sammy Knight, and experience at the other safety position with Reggie Nelson, but when teams get in the red zone, Knight's lateral range becomes less of a hindrance, and Nelson's playmaking instincts take over.

MP: How has first-round pick Reggie Nelson worked out this season? Like the Bucs, the Jags chose to start a rookie at free safety (Tanard Jackson)?

CB: Reggie Nelson has worked out very well thus far this season, and he seems to be getting better each week. Nelson has Ed Reed type of athletic abilities, and his speed can make up for some mistakes.

MP : Much of the talk before Monday's game was whether the Jags were a legitimate Top 5 team. First, were you in that camp before the game? And regardless of your answer to the first part, what do you think of this team now? Are they a Top 5 team? Top 10?

CB: With David Garrard playing the way he was playing, the Jaguars were easily a top 5 team. Without Garrard at quarterback the Jaguars are realistically a middle of the pack AFC team, unless Quinn Gray is somehow a lot better of a quarterback than he showed Monday.

Coming Friday: Matthew Postins answers Charlie Bernstein's questions about the Buccaneers.


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