River City Rage from Big Cat Country, SBN's resident Jags blogger, was kind enough to take a few moments to answer some of my questions. And here we go:
Skin Patrol: Apparently Jack Del Rio is so stupid that "he couldn't find his butt if it had Christopher Walken attached to it ringing a cow bell" (<-- news to me over at Stampede Blue). I don't follow the AFC South, or the Jags that closely, but what is the feel in Jacksonville? Having led the team to the post season last year, are the fans and players solidly behind Jack?
River City Rage: We Love Jack. I can't possibly imagine a more ridiculous statement than that little blurb from our dear Colts blogger, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Jacksonville went from multiple losing seasons and salary cap hell under the last years of Tom Coughlin to consistently improving rosters and records, with a high last season of our first playoff berth since 1999. Jack does a great job and he has the solid support of the city and our fanbase. It's actually quite amusing if you listen to Jacksonville radio the amount of hard core Del Rio fans we have in Georgia and Arkansas.
Skin Patrol: Are the Jacksonville Jaguars a legitimate Superbowl contender?
River City Rage: Imagine the 2000 Ravens Defense, now add in a fierce running game, physical wide receivers and a quarterback who can do much more than just "not lose games", and you've got the 06 Jaguars. We're a team that is going to get better each week and physically dominate every opponent. We're more than legitimate; I think the only team that can beat the Jags is themselves (i.e. last week)
Skin Patrol: Jacksonville has a monstrous defense, and has consistently finished as one of the best in the league the past few years. How much of this credit goes to defensive coordinator Mike Smith?
River City Rage: Mike gets a whole lot of credit. He's going to be on the short list of coordinators that get considered for whatever head coaching positions open up this coming off season. Especially if Jacksonville goes deep into the playoffs. He's especially good at rotating players and managing "jars on the shelf". We lost Reggie Hayward in week one which was certainly a big loss, but Mike's created a defense where players can rotate and move around in the system and the whole package stays strong. Good Defensive Coordinators can make stars look good, Great Defensive Coordinators make good players look like stars.
Skin Patrol: What do you perceive as the greatest weakness of the Jaguards Defense? Offense?
River City Rage: Defensively, our biggest weakness would be another injury to the Defensive Line. We can rotate our DE's and DT's, but if we were to take another hit, especially at DE, you'd start to see some degradation of our run defense. Our Cornerbacks with Williams and Mathis are fast and good DB's, but the Colt's game showed that they can be drawn out of position, especially when covering a known deep threat.
Offensively it's gonna be the Offensive Line. When Byron has time and the line opens holes, we're hard to stop. I'm a big believer in the trench warfare side of football. The game is won and lost at the line and if the Skins can disrupt the Run game and pressure Bryon, it could be a loooong day.
Skin Patrol: Finally, as an editorial on the offical JAX site notes, despite dominating some aspects of that game, the Jags lost to the Colts largely because of costly errors. As a Redskins fan, I am sympathetic to this. Are the mistakes symptomatic of larger discipline/poor decision making problems with the team, or are they a series of unfortunate but unrelated individual foul ups?
River City Rage: Good Question. I'm currently in a bit of a spat with our Colts writer about this. Last week we got caught up into a couple of unsportsmanlike contact penalties that I think were poor calls. I'm not gonna whine or anything, that the calls were even feasible means that my Jags were lingering a bit too long after the play. That being said, I think that they are individual incidents. Jack Del Rio runs a tight ship. We play tough, and we play a bit emotionally, especially against the Colts. Like I said before, I don't think there is a team in the league who can beat us outright, but we can certainly help by beating ourselves. Look for that problem to be checked a bit this week as I'm sure Jack will address how we threw away that game cause we allowed ourselves to get caught up in bad situations. And also give an Academy Award to Cato June for his amazing acting job.
Thanks to River City Rage for participating. You can catch my answers to his questions over at Big Cat Country here. Make sure to drop by his site and tell me what I got horribly wrong. Also be sure to catch the inevitable weekly 5 questions at The Curly R. I'll post a link as soon as he has them up, although I don't know who he is interviewing this week. Cheers.