1. The two biggest perceived weaknesses on the Jaguars entering the 2007 season are at the wide receiver and defensive end positions. Are these positions legitimate causes for concern, and do you think the Jaguars can get these fixed by opening day?
I believe that the lack of depth and all of the question marks surrounding the defensive end position is definitely a cause for concern. Who knows if Reggie Hayward will be able to play? Paul Spicer is very average, and will be 32 years old when the season begins, and Bobby McCray seems to be more of a pass rush specialist. Brent Hawkins, Jorge Cordova, Brian Smith, and Kenny Pettway seem to have potential, but none of them have proven much if anything at this level. If the Jaguars can't sustain a pass rush in '07, the entire defense will struggle, especially with a very young set of safeties. The Jaguars can possibly address this position by trading for the Chicago Bears Alex Brown, but there aren't any reports that show the Jaguars being one of the teams interested.
I think that the wide receiver position is going to be strong in '07. The Jaguars have a nice group of talented guys, and all of them should feel a little uneasy about their potential roster spot. Coach Del Rio said that some of the guys have to stop "living off their potential," and that statement was directed at both Reggie Williams and Matt Jones. I believe that ultimately both Williams and Jones will make the roster, but guys like Walker, Northcutt, Sharon, Broussard, and Wilford are going to raise the bar for the entire position with strong competition in camp. It appears that the Jaguars are going to have to cut a talented guy at the wide receiver position, and that is a good thing for the entire team.
2. Will the Jaguars acquire Duante Culpepper, and if they do, what does that mean to Byron Leftwich?
I think the Jaguars are going to eventually end up with Duante Culpepper. Out of all my league sources, I can't find another team that has expressed serious interest in him. Culpepper will eventually gain his release from Miami, and the Jaguars will likely sign him to a modest, two or three year deal.
The acquisition of Culpepper will not mean much to Byron Leftwich. Leftwich has been named the starting quarterback and Culpepper is not likely to take that title away unless Leftwich gets injured again, or plays poorly. If either of those two things happen, Leftwich would lose his job to either David Garrard or Quinn Gray so it really doesn't matter who is behind Byron. It's basically his job to lose.
3. How will the Jaguars secondary be without Deon Grant and Donovin Darius?
The Jaguars secondary will be much more athletic, with a much higher ceiling, now that Grant and Darius aren't in the teams' plans. Gerald Sensabaugh and Reggie Nelson may struggle a bit early on in the season, but fortunately for the Jaguars, they don't play any real down-field passing teams in the first month of the season with the exception of Denver, who likely will be playing a quarterback who has started less than nine games.
4. Will the Jaguars special teams be better in '07?
The easy answer is that it can't be much worse. The Jaguars were ranked among the league's worst in punt coverage and kickoff coverage in '06, and they made plenty of personnel changes to try and correct that. The team has a new special teams coordinator in Joe DeCamillis, they drafted one of the NCAA's best punters in Adam Podlesh, and most of the day two picks that were signed are likely to compete for roster spots on special teams. The Jaguars can point to a minimum of two games in '06 that they lost almost entirely from poor special teams. That alone would have made them a playoff team.
5. Will Maurice Jones-Drew have another fantastic season like '06?
Probably not. I think MJD can be an even better player in '07, but it's not likely that he'll replicate his numbers of 2250 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns. He now has the attention of every opponent the Jaguars will face and they will be keying on him. Combine that with the return of a healthy, motivated Fred Taylor and perhaps a healthy Greg Jones, and the amount of carries for MJD might not be that plentiful. The Jaguars will likely have a much improved passing game that should take away some of his stats as well.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. Feel free to contact Charlie HERE
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