Thanks to those of you who provided questions for us to ask Shane Clemons, who heads up Bloguin’s Jacksonville Jaguars blog, The Jaggernaut. Following are our questions to Shane and his answers.
Total Titans: The Jaguars pass rush is something that has been lacking in the past few years. They traded up to get Harvey in the first round a few years ago and that proved to be a mistake. They added Kampman last year and he played only half the season. Is there any reason to think that the pass rush will be better this year?
Shane Clemons: The Jaguars have had a poor pass rush for far too long, and it remains a concern, but the pre-season gave us a glimpse of what the Jaguars could do. In week 2 of the pre-season, the Jaguars played the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan had a poor night, largely due to being hurried and forced out of the pocket. The Jaguars didn’t get a sack in the game, but they were able to get Ryan to misfire multiple times, including a huge loss on an intentional grounding. The Jaguars’ pass rush is making progress, but it’s not there yet.
TT: With Del Rio’s job on the line, was he bold or stupid (or maybe both) to toss his starting QB to the curb just a few days before the season opener? Is McCown really that much of an upgrade over Garrard? How will the Jags offense be different with McCown instead of Garrard?
SC: I liked the move. The “last straw” was reportedly Garrard throwing 3 interceptions in practice on Monday. That type of play is unacceptable, and Garrard had played that way throughout the pre-season. McCown was undoubtedly the best quarterback day in and day out for the Jaguars throughout the pre-season. It’s certainly a bold move, but I think it’s something that needed to be done. Here’s a freebie. I don’t expect Gabbert to start unless McCown gets injured at some point in the season. Gabbert’s time is coming, but I don’t expect to see him much this season.
TT: MoJo Drew had only five preseason carries. How healthy is he? With the loss of Jennings, does the situation at RB concern you?
SC: The Jaguars didn’t want to hurry MJD back from his injury, and I think that’s the right way to handle an injury concerning your best player. Jones-Drew says he’s healthy and ready to go, and I have no reason to believe otherwise. The loss of Jennings hurts, but the Jaguars are very impressed with Deji Karim, and he’s always looked good when he gets in a game. Running back is a position of mild concern, but the Jaguars have bigger problems than just at RB.
TT: The Jaguars signed two free agents that I wish the Titans had pursued, Posluszny and Landry. Seems to me like Pos and Daryl Smith will make a good tandem and Landry strengthens the secondary. How much of an upgrade do they provide?
SC: Posluszny and Landry should both be huge additions, and they’re not the only ones to help the defense. Drew Coleman will step in as the nickel back, Dwight Lowery will likely start once he’s acquainted with the defense, and Clint Session adds some great speed to the Jaguars’ linebackers. The Jaguars had a terrible defense at best in 2010. That had to change, and they’ve done a good job filling in the gaps. I think the unit will be much improved.
TT: Are the problems on the offensive line serious or exaggerated? How well did the starters pass protect in the preseason against the opponents’ starters? Can they pass protect against an average NFL d-line, or even one that’s thin at defensive end with injuries? Can they run block for MJD?
SC: I’ve went back and watched the Jaguars’ pre-season games, and the offensive line is a huge concern. Here’s the good news for the Jaguars. McCown gets the ball out faster than Gabbert or Garrard did. Not only that, the line blocked better for McCown, even when they were against the 1st team defense in the last pre-season game. The offensive line is the one wild-card the Jaguars really have going into the season (okay so McCown’s a wild-card too), and we really won’t know until Sunday whether or not the offensive line is a huge weakness or over-exaggerated.
Thanks for having me, and the questions were great.
Our thanks go to Shane as well. For more Jaguars opinions and analysis, please see what Shane and his co-authors are writing about on The Jaggernaut.