1. The Decision by Jack Del Rio to cut ties with veteran quarterback Byron Leftwich and start David Garrard was risky to say the least. Do you think this team is in good hands with the nearly 30-year old quarterback?
When the decision was initially made to part ways with Leftwich, I didn't agree with it, mostly due to the timing of the move. I felt they could've made the choice earlier and received some trade compensation for Leftwich, as well as the fact they were leaving the season in the hands of David Garrard, who was a turnover machine in 2006.
Coach Mike Shula and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter worked extensively with all the quarterbacks in camp, and Garrard has looked like a completely different player through three games. He's been accurate, and has respected the football, which is something he's never done in his five years in the league, as referenced by his 103.8 quarterback rating. Right now, it appears as if Del Rio made the right choice, but it's only been three games, and although many Jaguars fans are optimistic, their optimism needs to be tempered.
With the quality of quarterbacks available in next year's draft, I would be extremely surprised if the Jaguars don't select one early, because of Garrard's age, and the fact an injury to him could really hurt the team.
2. The Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be a team with one of the best defenses in the NFL. Do you think this defense can carry the team in the face of an offense that has struggled to score points in 2007?
The defense has certainly been Jacksonville's more impressive unit since Jack Del Rio took over as head coach back in 2003. As solid as the Jaguars defense is, they will have off days throughout a season, and the 15.4 points per game that the offense is currently averaging will not get it done against some of the elite teams. Defense can carry a team just so far, the offense needs to score more.
3. The big question among fans in Jacksonville has been the injuries sustained by running back Fred Taylor. Do you think the emergence of Maurice Jones-Drew has helped his career, or is the writing on the wall for Taylor, who has already battled an injury this year?
The combination of Taylor and Jones-Drew has helped both backs stay healthy by sharing the load. Taylor received a contract extension in the offseason, and has been pretty solid and healthy ever since. Although Taylor may be over 30, he's in the shape of a 25-year old, and he's just as explosive.
4. What do you think the Jaguars can do defensively to shut down Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez and wide receiver Dwyane Bowe?
Shutting down both Gonzalez and Bowe may be an unrealistic expectation. Bowe can be neutralized by a solid Jaguars secondary, especially if he lines up against Rashean Mathis, but Gonzalez looks like a complete mismatch. The Jaguars will need to cover Gonzalez with a linebacker, and Clint Ingram will be playing in his first game of the season Sunday, following a preseason ankle injury. I don't think the Jaguars can expect Gonzalez to be shut down, possibly just slowed down a bit.
5. Last season Larry Johnson shredded the Jaguars for three touchdowns and over 130 yards rushing. This season the Chiefs All-Pro running back has struggled. Are the Jaguars concerned that this might be the game he breaks out and gets into a rhythm early in the game?
If the Jaguars aren't concerned about LJ, they should be. He is one of the best backs in the league, and he completely gashed the team last season. The Jaguars normally play teams straight up and try to stop the run with just seven in the box, but if Johnson gets off early, they may need to bring up a safety.
6. Two years ago the Jaguars were the surprise of the NFL by getting to the post season. In 2006 they faltered and could not get back to the playoffs. They are in a division that is highly competitive. Do you think they can make it back to the playoffs this season?
The playoffs are certainly the expectation for this team, and coming into the season, many believe the team can compete for a division title. With the opening day loss, and the Colts' strong start, expectations for a division title have been tempered somewhat, but the Jaguars still control their own destiny, and have historically played well against Indianapolis, including a 44-17 victory over them last season, a game in which the Jaguars ran for 375 yards.
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.
Click the link below for Part 1 of this series.
Behind Enemy Lines: Chiefs
Behind Enemy Lines: Jaguars
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