The Tennessee Titans host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday and JagsInsider publisher Charlie Bernstein spent some time with TitanRedZone this week to answer some questions about the Jaguars in our Behine Enemy Lines feature.
1) Blake Bortles looks like he has improved greatly since last season. What areas has he improved the most in and what does he still need to improve the most?
We've really seen across the board improvements in Bortles in his second year. He's become a better leader, he's more decisive, he's more accurate and he doesn't make as many bad throws into coverage. The thing that makes Bortles most special is his ability to shake off mistakes and never get down. A lot of his improvement is likely due to having healthy weapons on the outside and a better offensive line, something he didn't have as a rookie. The biggest area of improvement that everyone would like to see is for Bortles to cut down on the turnovers. He's done a much better job at it, but there's still a ways to go.
2)The Jaguars seem to have put an emphasis on offensive players in recent drafts with Bortles, Hurns, Robinson, Lee, Green and Yeldon. Do you expect them to look to add on the defensive side this time, or are they happy with where they are there and will use this draft to bolster depth throughout the roster?
I think they're somewhat satisfied with the amount of talent they have on the offensive side of the ball so I would expect a heavy emphasis on defense in the draft and possibly in free agency. They have virtually no pass rush, and perhaps the return of Dante Fowler next year will help that, but they still need more up front, and they have no starting caliber NFL safety.
3) The Jaguars are improved this season under Gus Bradley, but could he find himself on the hot seat after this season if the team misses out on the playoffs in a very weak division this season?
From everything I'm told, Gus Bradley's job is safe and secure for next season. In 2016, there has to be legitimate improvement and that would have to include climbing over .500. Bradley's tenure would have been in jeopardy if not for their recent string of good play. The fan base is still torn over whether Gus is indeed the right guy for the job.
4) When looking at the injury report for the Jaguars, two players who could be missing stand out. What would the potential absence of Allen Hurns change the game plan for Jacksonville. Likewise, how could the potential absence of Dan Skuta change the defense especially considering the Titans have so many tight ends and use as many as three in certain formations?
Hurns is the Jaguars best route runner and he's the guy that Blake Bortles trusts most on third downs. It's likely that Marqise Lee will assume that role and Lee is more of a deep threat, not known for having great hands (or health). I would expect some more usage out of Julius Thomas and a heavy dose of Rashad Greene on third downs. Defensively, Thurston Armbrister, an undrafted free agent rookie will try to replace Skuta. I would expect the Jaguars to employ more nickel to keep Armbrister from being exposed and I would expect the Titans to counter by going heavy and running the ball in those situations.
5) The Titans and Jaguars have split the season series in recent years. How important would it be for the Jaguars to get the sweep and establish themselves over the Titans in the division standing as they try to gain ground?
With both franchises down, the sweep over the Titans would be a small carrot. The Jaguars think they can compete for bigger things, and at this point they'll take wins any way they can get them. Anyone who saw the first game a few weeks ago could see that there really isn't much of a difference between these two teams, in fact the Titans looked better for about 57 minutes. With Jack Del Rio gone and Jeff Fisher gone, it's much less about the rivalry between these two teams now. It's about who can rebuild the fastest, but we could see the rivalry rebuilt with Mariota and Bortles hopefully squaring off for years to come.