1. Was releasing Byron Leftwich the right move? Why didn't they want to keep him as the #2?
Bernstein: "In my opinion, releasing Leftwich at the time they released him was a big mistake. I'm okay with the release and the move to Garrard, but it should have been done back in February, or at least around draft day, where they could have recouped some compensation for the former seventh overall pick. The team continuously stated throughout the entire offseason that there was no quarterback competition, and then they released the guy that was named their starter. It was a move that reeks of desperation, and they decided to give up on a quarterback with a winning record (there's not many in this league), who has a strong arm and can read a defense, for a guy who was a career backup that has made rookie mistakes throughout his first five years in the league."
"It was impossible to keep him as the number two. Leftwich was due a salary of $5.145 million in '07, and although the Jaguars have tons of cap room, it just didn't make sense to keep that kind of money on the bench. With the growing rift in the fanbase, it got to a point where either Leftwich or Garrard had to go. The Jaguars went with the guy who is making more than $3.5 million less. (Sorry for the length of the answer."
2. How has Maurice Jones Drew progressed from year 1 to year 2? Will he see more carries this season than he did last season?
Bernstein: "Maurice Jones-Drew slimmed down a bit, and is even faster in year two. It's not likely that he'll see more carries unless there is an injury to Fred Taylor. Jones-Drew also has to contend with a healthy Greg Jones being in the mix."
3. Who was the biggest surprise in Jaguars camp?
Bernstein: "This answer changed week to week, but at the end of camp, it had to be wide receiver John Broussard. Broussard was a seventh-round pick out of San Jose State that can flat out fly (4.35 speed). Usually burners like Broussard have bad hands and are afraid to go over the middle. Broussard can catch and went over the middle and took big shots consistently through the preseason. He may make a difference."
4. Does David Garrard have what it takes to lead the Jaguars to the playoffs?
Bernstein: "The million dollar question. If Garrard takes on the role of a game manager, and if he can limit his stupid throws, the Jaguars can easily make the playoffs based on their strengths which are a very stingy defense, and a powerful running game. Garrard's job is basically not to mess it up. If for whatever reason Garrard needs to beat a team through the air, there's nothing that says we won't see a repeat of the performance he had in Tennessee from a year ago."
5. Do the Jaguars have a receiver that is ready to step up and make a name for himself? Do you think the Jaguars' front office regrets the decision to draft Matt Jones as high as they did?
Bernstein: "The Jaguars receiving corps is much more talented than it was a year ago, however no one from it will make a Pro Bowl, or be considered one of the game's elite this season. They are all pretty good but not great, sort of how New England's wide receivers were in their championship days."
"Although no one in the front office will admit that they made a mistake by making Matt Jones a first round pick, it's obvious that he's not the player they thought he was. They were expecting Matt Jones to be a playmaker, but he's really just a possession receiver who lacks passion for the game."
6. Jacksonville has always been a strong team defensively. Where does the 2007 version rank among the all-time Jaguar defenses?
Bernstein: "The 2007 Jaguars defense is clearly the most athletic, and probably the most talented unit in the team's brief history. If they can stay healthy, they'll be one of the best units in the league."
7. Is Jack Del Rio feeling any pressure down there? The Jaguars always seem to be the sexy pick to do great things but end up falling just shy of doing those things. Is he in trouble if they turn out another 8-8 season?
Bernstein: "Jack Del Rio is firmly planted on a seat of fire, especially with the move to release Leftwich (that was clearly his decision, and a power play). If the team finished .500 or worse, I would expect to see a change, not only with the head coach, but also the general manager (James "Shack" Harris)."
8. Is this Jaguars team good enough to knock the Colts off of the AFC South throne?
Bernstein: "In terms of talent, this team is actually better than the Colts. They always play them tough, and anyone who watched the two games between the teams last year would see that Jacksonville was a better football team. The answers will lie in whether or not the Jaguars can beat the teams they are supposed to beat. That's where the Colts maturity and superior coaching really plays a great factor."
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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