Behind Enemy Lines -- Part II

Charlie Bernstein is the publisher of JagsInsider.com here at Scout, so he answered five questions about the Jaguars put to him by Jim Wexell.

1.) I understand your receivers are very young due to injury and/or suspension, but who's running the ball? And was it worth their while to let the great Maurice Jones-Drew leave?

Toby Gerhart is the lead running back and he's been mediocre on a good day. Although the team has a lot of history with Maurice Jones-Drew, he's simply not the same player he used to be. Jones-Drew's money demands weren't commensurate with his recent injury history and level of play so the team made a business decision. To be fair, the holes opened up for the running game have been few and far between so even an elite back would struggle running behind this offensive line.

2.) Is Luke Joeckel playing like a top-of-the-draft left tackle should?

To answer simply, no. Joeckel missed most of his rookie season with a leg injury so he's effectively still a rookie, playing left tackle. The 2013 Draft doesn't appear as if it had elite talent, especially at the top. Eric Fisher has struggled in Kansas City and Joeckel has been very average. The team certainly has seen a drop off at the position since trading away Eugene Monroe.

3.) Has Blake Bortles surprised you? Or has his play just been good for a rookie?

I believe Bortles has surprised almost everyone when you consider that many thought he wouldn't be ready to play at the NFL level for at least a year. Bortles has a very good arm and athletic ability which we knew going in, but he has shown himself to be a great leader and highly intelligent at the line of scrimmage. He's going to make mistakes this year without a doubt, but the future looks bright at quarterback for this franchise and that's something that really hasn't been said about Jacksonville since the days of a young Mark Brunell.

4.) The front four looks competent in name and on the stat sheet, and any linebacking crew with Paul Posluszny has to be decent, so why is the defense ranked last?

Make no mistake, they've earned that ranking. The pass rush has been spotty but the secondary play has been simply atrocious. The Jaguars have no legitimate answer at free safety as they've auditioned Winston Guy (now waived) and Josh Evans (late-round pick from a year ago). Cornerbacks are passing off receivers to safeties that are either out of position or simply off the screen. Communication has been the biggest problem, and although Posluszny has been a very good player for a while, he's not what he used to be and doesn't seem to be fitting in with Gus Bradley/Bob Babich's defense.

5.) This game used to be Jacksonville's Super Bowl. Is it still considered a huge game for the team? And will the fans sell their tickets to Steelers fans for this game?

Among the fan base, the Steelers game is always special. The Jaguars were trying to build the franchise along the same lines as the old Steelers with running the football and playing great defense, and there is a ton of respect for the organization. In recent years they simply haven't played each other enough to fuel what was a very good rivalry. Right now, every game is big for the Jaguars as they're just trying to get a win, but there's a different feeling on the street as opposed to inside the building. Steelers fans can find tickets to any game and I can't imagine this Sunday will be any different.


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