DF: We've discussed the ups and downs of David Garrard -- his pass protection issues exacerbated by holding the ball too long, various efficiency issues complicated by underachieving receivers. How do you rank him among the NFL's quarterbacks, and do you believe he's the kind of player that can be the best at his position?
CB: David Garrard has elite skills at the quarterback position, but his flaws will always keep him from being a top 10 player at his position. He is tough to bring down, has an extremely strong arm, but he doesn't go through his progressions well enough and struggles in times of crisis. If everything around him is good, he's good. If there are any kind of breakdowns, he can't lift his team.
DF: Maurice Jones-Drew can do just about everything, but are the Jags in danger of relying on him too much? Would the offense fall apart completely were he to be injured for any length of time, and who's there to back him up?
CB: To put it simply, Jones-Drew is the Jaguars offense. He's the best player on the team and opposing defenses must be aware of him on every snap. If he were to miss some time, the offense would be extremely mediocre. As for his backups, rookie Rashad Jennings looked good last week (but really, who didn't?), and fullback Greg Jones would get some carries.
DF: Rookie tackles Eben Britton and Eugene Monroe were both out for Jacksonville's convincing win over the Titans last Sunday. What does that say about the Jags line depth, and are the kids ready for prime time?
|Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker makes a second quarter catch in front of Washington Redskins linebacker H.B. Blades during an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)|
CB: After struggling in the season opener against Indianapolis, the Jaguars offensive line has played much better. It's almost amazing that a team could lose both starting tackles as Jacksonville did, and not be affected adversly. I bet Green Bay would kill to have that type of depth. When Britton and Monroe are back healthy, they will be the starters and they have been getting better each week.
DF: Where did this Mike Sims-Walker guy come from, and who else does Garrard have to throw to?
CB: I'm glad you asked, Mike Sims-Walker came from my school, the University of Central Florida where all we do is put out elite NFL talent (for a mid-major). Sims-Walker changed his name (added the Sims part) to honor his father who had passed away during last season. He was a third-round pick in '07 (after an ACL injury still ran a 4.37) and was placed on the IR for his rookie season. Last season he had one breakout game against Pittsburgh where he went over 100 yards, then injured his knee and got a staph infection. Following that, his father died and then his best friend was killed. Mike is finally healthy and playing up to the potential that all of us saw the first time we saw him light up Jaguars mini-camp as a rookie.
Garrard also has tight end Marcedes Lewis, who is quietly having a fantastic season, and Torry Holt, who is a possession guy at this point in his career. Slot man Mike Thomas, the rookie from Arizona, gives the Jaguars an added dimension of speed to run reverses and such.
DF: How much has the supposed switch to the 3-4 defense really showed up so far this year? Is it a real switch, or more a hybrid look, and how is that front seven doing?
CB: It began as a hybrid, as the Jaguars were trying to see which pieces would fit where, but now it is their base defense. The team is still trying to plug in parts, but it appears that John Henderson is a good 3-4 end, along with Montavious Stanley, and rookie Terrance Knighton is the real deal at nose. Derrick Harvey is a better stand up linebacker, and he could be a Adalius Thomas type of athlete. Nobody is going to confuse this defense with the Jets, Ravens, or Steelers, as they are a work in progress, but they've played near flawless ball in the last six quarters.
DF: Jacksonville's secondary is one of the worst in the league statistically, but is there anyone in that defensive backfield playing above the norm?
CB: Statistics don't lie, but sometimes they don't tell the entire truth. Rashean Mathis is having a fantastic season, and rookie Derek Cox is learning on the job and he has a pair of interceptions. The real weak link in the back end is Reggie Nelson, who bites on nearly every play-fake and is a poor tackler, but he played well last week. It is believed that Gerald Alexander, who started for Sean Considine who was injured, will remain the starter as he had an excellent game against Tennessee.
DF: Who do you see winning this game, and why?
CB: This is tough, because I can really see either team coming away with a victory. If I had to bet the mortgage, I would do so on Seattle, mainly because Hasselbeck should play and they have a very good defense, even with some injuries. It's difficult for any team to make the trek up to the great northwest, especially a young team like the Jags, which most of the players have never made the trip up to the Emerald City.
Charlie Bernstein is the host of CB Sports on ESPN Radio 1420 in St. Augustine, and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can e-mail Charlie here.