Ryan Day of our sister blog, Big Cat Country, was kind enough to stop by this week and answer some of our biggest questions about his consistently inconsistent Jacksonville Jaguars. Many people (including myself) predicted the Jags to finally take that elusive “next step” in 2016, but so far it seems like this season is just more of the same for the beleaguered Duval County fanbase. The offense cannot score early in games, the defense gets gassed by the third quarter, and Gus Bradley – for whatever reason – simply cannot get the best out of this very talented (on paper) Jaguars squad.
Here is what Ryan had to say about everything from Bradley’s failures, to Blake Bortles’s struggles, to perhaps the best rookie that nobody is talking about – Jalen Ramsey.
1. Assuming Gus Bradley is fired either during or after this season, who do you think should be the next head coach of the Jaguars?
Someone outside the organization. Someone who will disrupt and redirect this culture of "well, losing is okay because we gave it our best shot". Someone who will actually hold players accountable to performing well consistently. I don't know who that is, but I'm much more in favor of someone who is untainted from Gus Bradley and his loser mentality than promoting from within.
2. What is wrong with Blake Bortles? Is it a coaching problem, a bad offensive line, a lack of weapons, or is it all entirely on Bortles himself?
It begins and ends with Bortles. I don't think he takes this game as seriously as he should, in terms of preparation, studying, and keeping his mind and body right. I won't go into any of the countless rumors and pieces of gossip that get tossed around Jacksonville, but suffice to say -- he needs to get his act together and play like the third-overall pick he's supposed to be. That doesn't mean a Super Bowl-winning, 24 hours a day studying guy. But it does mean looking competent in games, not being the reason for losses, and not throwing interceptions to defenders who are 10 yards from the nearest receiver.
The lack of a running game has hurt, but we ran for more than 200 on the Chiefs’ JV team last week and Bortles still played like [EXPLETIVE], so I don't know how much is really outside of him.
3. Who is the best player on the Jaguars’ roster not named Allen Robinson?
Jalen Ramsey, easily. Telvin Smith is having a Pro Bowl season, as is our punter Brad Nortman, and Marqise Lee is finally playing like a second-round talent... but Jalen is showing All-Pro skills and locking down some of the best receivers in the league. This Sunday against DeAndre Hopkins will show us a lot.
4. How have Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack performed in their rookie season thus far?
As I said before, Jalen is a future All-Pro player in my mind. He's Deion Sanders if Deion were a better tackler. He's going to grow into a multiple Pro Bowls type of guy and he's easily Dave Caldwell's best pick in four drafts.
Myles Jack has been held back by... a lot of things. The coaches wanted to put him in Paul Posluszny's spot, but then Paul Posluszny decided to play the best football of his Jaguars career. Then they wanted him in Telvin Smith's spot, but Telvin Smith turned it up too. Now he's learning the outside linebacker spot opposite Telvin and splitting time with Dan Skuta (which is dumb). Until Jack gets more than 20 snaps in a game, it's hard to really evaluate him.
5. What is your prediction for this game?
I liked your prediction of 24-16 in favor of the Texans. I think it's closer -- but still a Texans win. I'll say 23-21 in favor of Houston.
At this point in a 5-3 season with the AFC South race still relatively close, I’ll take any win we can get - Jags or not. A big thank you to Ryan for giving his thoughts on this weekend’s game. You can read more of his excellent work on all-things-Jaguars over at Big Cat Country. Remember to play nice while you’re over there.