Thanks to Tim McClellan of Jaguars Journal for participating in this question and answer exchange. Following are my questions for him with his answers. I’ll post his questions with my answers tomorrow.
Total Titans: I was one of those who predicted the Jaguars would make the playoffs again this year, but they’re now 4-5 and it now looks like every game is a must-win game. Are the Jaguars good enough to win six or seven of the remaining games to make the postseason? What do they have to do to accomplish that?
Jaguars Journal: The Jaguars suffered some significant injuries, and then had to endure some self-inflicted wounds this year. Off-field incidents like the Collier shooting and the Peterson suspension also contributed.
The team has the ability to win 6 or 7 games if they stay focused on the task at hand. The problem this year is that their lack of consistency is directly tied to the fact that focus is not always there. Hopefully, with Jack cracking down on the team things will get back on track. Every game from this point forward is a must win and they need to understand that.
TT: The Jaguars defense is not as good as usual this year. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams: yay or nay?
JJ: The old saying “It’s the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s. Not the X’s and the O’s” holds true for the defense. Gregg Williams did not cause injuries to Brian Williams, Rashean Mathis, Drayton Florence, or Reggie Nelson that caused three of the four to miss some playing time this year.
The team put a lot of expectation on the shoulders of two rookie defensive ends to help bolster the pass rush. Historically, the expectations were probably a little over the top in that regard.
Williams is accustomed to running a very aggressive, attack style defense with a variety of exotic blitz packages. The Jaguars didn’t adapt to the new scheme quickly enough to make it effective after being in Mike Smith’s defense for five years. It will take some time for the complete transition to reap positive results.
TT: The offensive line has had a lot of injuries, necessitating a lot of changes. Is the line starting to get settled in now and developing some chemistry? Barring further injuries, what do you anticipate?
JJ: The injuries have certainly had an impact on the running game, but it looks like they might have finally gotten to a point where they have things moving in the right direction. Plugging Dennis Norman into the starting lineup at Guard certainly made a difference against Detroit. The only problem with this is that it WAS Detroit. It remains to be seen if the Jaguars have turned the corner. This week will be a good test.
TT: What matchups do you like for the Jaguars? What matchups don’t you like and what will the Jags have to do about them?
JJ: Our interior offensive line against Albert Haynesworth is the one critical matchup that will make or break the Jags this week. He has proven to be an absolute force this year, so finding ways to contain him will be critical in finding any success offensively for the Jags. More than likely, you’ll see a lot of double teams and a significant amount of tight end help on the outside.
Defensively, the matchup that I do not like is Chris Johnson vs. our defensive front 7. With John Henderson out for the game Sunday, the Jaguars will have to step up their efforts to contain the running game, and Johnson is such a dangerous weapon that having a major cog in the Jags defense missing is worth worrying over. With Mike Peterson out of the starting lineup, the Jaguars will have to rely on a speedy group of linebackers to step up and contain Johnson.
The matchups that I do like are the Jaguars receiving corps vs. the Titans secondary. It’s a great challenge for Matt Jones, Mike Walker, Jerry Porter, and Marcedes Lewis. With the running game struggling, the Jaguars passing game has had to step up, and this week against what is one of the better defenses in the league, but with the big physical receivers the Jaguars will trot out there, it gives them a chance to do something that most teams haven’t been able to do this year: put up some points by taking advantage of the mismatches.
TT: What would you like for Titans fans to know about that wasn’t asked here? Do you have a prediction?
JJ: Are the Jaguars and their fans over 1999? Yes.
Would they like to be the team that ended a perfect season? Without a doubt.
Thanks to Tim for his input. For more from the Jaguars point of view, please check out Jaguars Journal here on mvn.com.