Michael Lombardo: What is the latest on David Garrard? Will he be able to start this week and, if so, will he be 100 percent? How does the offense change with Garrard under center?
Charlie Bernstein: There has been no official announcement, but I expect Garrard to start. He will likely be somewhere less than 100% so it is likely that he won't be running quite as much. Garrard has really elevated his game this season and he's cut out the bad mistakes that he used to make routinely in the past. He's very accurate in the short passing game and his biggest attribute is the threat to run.
ML: The Jaguars' passing offense ranks No. 26 in the league despite spending recent first-round picks on Reggie Williams, Matt Jones and Marcedes Lewis. Why have all these players failed to play up to their draft status? Does it fall on the players? Or is it poor drafting, poor quarterback play or something else?
CB: There is a multitude of reasons why the Jaguars passing game is ranked so low. First and foremost, the Jaguars main offensive identity is that of a run first, play good defense, control the clock and field position type of team. Reggie Williams has shown sparks of becoming a solid NFL receiver (4 TD's this year), and Marcedes Lewis seems to catch everything thrown his way, they just don't throw the ball all that often. Jones appears to be a bust. Play calling and some underachieving is likely why the Jaguars passing game is ranked so low. The Jaguars try to get early leads and then run the football to shorten the game.
ML: In an article I wrote a few weeks back, I identified Marcus Stroud as the player the Chargers needed to worry about most in their week 11 matchup. Obviously, that won't be the case with Stroud suspended. How are the Jaguars filling this void? Does Stroud's absence leave them susceptible to a big day by LaDainian Tomlinson?
CB: Marcus Stroud hasn't been the same player over the last two seasons as he was prior to his ankle injuries. Rob Meier fills in for Stroud in passing situations, and newly acquired Grady Jackson fills in on running downs. Last week there was literally no dropoff in play without Stroud. As for a big day by L.T., that can happen no matter who is playing for the Jaguars.
ML: Despite having one of the league's top cover corners in Rashean Mathis, the Jaguars' pass defense ranks in the league's bottom half-dozen. Fortunately, they face a Chargers aerial attack that is grossly underperforming. Which way do you see the tide breaking on Sunday? Will the Jaguars load the box and bring pressure or drop back and try to confuse Rivers?
CB: The Jaguars pass defense is a different unit when cornerback Brian Williams is healthy, which he is now. I see Antonio Gates being a huge problem for the Jaguars and if Rivers makes it a point to look his way, they will have success. The Jaguars haven't loaded up the box on anyone in the last few years, and I expect that trend to continue unless Tomlinson has early success. The Jaguars will likely drop back and switch coverages on passing downs.
ML: Which under-the-radar player do you see as a potential X-factor for Sunday's game?
CB: Offensively, the Jaguars are going to need to have some success in the passing game on Sunday, and if either Reggie Williams or Dennis Northcutt can make plays, the Jaguars stand an excellent chance of winning. Defensively, safety Sammy Knight must do a great job when matched up against Antonio Gates.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.
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