The fellas over at SB Nation's site for all things Jacksonville Jaguar--the aptly named Big Cat Country--were kind enough to field five questions from me in advance of Sunday's game. Here's what they had to say:
1. Judging from what I've seen and read at Big Cat Country, things ain't so rosy in the Land of the Jaguars right now. While you can't call a Week Three game a true "must-win," I'm gathering that this game is awfully close to that for Jags fans. Based on what you saw the last two weeks, what's the biggest problem on the field for the Jags these days?
BCC: The Jaguars' two biggest problems right now are inexperience and coaching. The Jaguars have four rookies starting and all 8 of the draft picks were expecting to contribute from the start. Any team with that much youth is going to make for some bad moments. However, bad coaching leads to being down 31-3 and allowing Kurt Warner to complete 92% of his passes before the Cardinals nearly made a huge blunder and benched Warner in the 3rd quarter. If that didn't happen, that game might as well have been Florida vs. Troy. That falls completely on coaching and is another example of the ups and downs of Jack Del Rio.
2. Entering last season, the Jags were thought to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender by many pundits. After the troubles of '08, that bandwagon is considerably less hopping in 2009. What do you attribute this paradigm shift to--player turnover, questions about management, questions about coaching, or something else?
BCC: I think the 2008 bandwagon was fueled with Kool-Aid and two inch thick Teal and Black glasses. The problems were there to be seen; we just didn't see them. The abysmal 2008 campaign and the ticket sales issues are the reason for the current bitterness in the River City.
3. The very early returns on Maurice Jones-Drew this season, his first without Fred Taylor around to share the workload, look fairly positive (4.8 yards per carry). Do you think the offense is better with MJD as the big dog, or have you noticed that not having Taylor hurts? Furthermore, are you worried about MJD wearing down over the course of the season thanks to the additional workload?
BCC: MJD has been a 20+ touch back when you factor in receptions for a while now, and I think he'll hold up well enough through the year. However, it is still vital for either Rashad Jennings or Greg Jones to become a consistent threat to allow MJD some time to rest on the bench.
4. Prior to the 2007 NFL Draft, I was one of many fans intrigued by the notion of Reggie Nelson becoming a Texan. As he marches through his third year, what's your view on him? Has he met or exceeded expectations?
BCC: After Nelson's excellent rookie year, he has been regressing ever since. One play he'll make a perfect break on the ball, the next forget his zone area and be the reason the defense gave up six. In other words, there is a reason I have Eric Berry at the top of my "prospects to watch" list for the Jags.
5. PUT YOUR NAME ON IT: The final score of Sunday's game will be Jaguars _____, Texans _____. Come the end of the regular season, the Jags' record will be ___-___ and the Texans' record will be ___-___.
BCC: Jaguars 24, Texans 17. Jaguars' record: 7-9. Texans' record: 9-7.
Thanks to the guys over at Big Cat Country for taking the time. Head on over there to see what the Jags' frustrated fan base thinks about how their beloved team will fare against your Houston Texans on Sunday.