With the Detroit Lions set to meet the Jacksonville Jaguars in their third game of the preseason, I got together with Daniel Lago of Black and Teal for a Q&A.
Here are my questions followed by his answers.
1. What have you seen in the Jaguars’ first two preseason games that you have liked and haven’t liked?
Outside of Blake Bortles, the most encouraging unit on the team has been the defensive line. Sen’Derrick Marks looks like he could take the next step as penetrating interior rusher, and the additions of Chris Clemons and Red Bryant have given the Jaguars a pretty solid rotation along the defensive front.
The biggest concern so far has been the poor play of the interior offensive line. The Jaguars are trying out virtually everyone at the center spot, and that’s holding them back from solidifying right guard. The team has been pretty poor run-blocking for Toby Gerhart and the other backs.
2. Who is one player you’re looking forward to seeing play the Lions on Friday?
It’s an easy choice, but Blake Bortles. He’s been outstanding so far, but he’s only played against 2nd and 3rd team guys. He’s expected to play with the first team offense for a quarter on Friday, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can have the same kind of success if the Lions keep most of their starters on the field.
3. Fans in the Detroit area will be getting their first up-close look at Denard Robinson in the NFL. How has he fit in with the Jaguars and what is the outlook for him this season?
Shoelace had a rough rookie season, and we didn’t know at the time it was mainly thanks to a lingering nerve injury in his hand from his last year at Michigan. He had trouble opening and closing his hand, and it inhibited his ability to catch and hold the ball. He’s healthy now, and he has been a bright spot in training camp. He’s catching everything thrown his way, and he has the burst and top end speed to be a real playmaker. He’s not going to start, but he’ll be in the running back rotation.
4. Put on your prediction hat. Who should start at quarterback and who do you think will be the starting quarterback when the regular season starts?
Barring an injury, Chad Henne is going to start. I completely disagree, and I would start Blake Bortles now and get the ball rolling on his development. Some of that is probably just my frustration as a fan with the quarterbacks over the last few years, but I don’t see the point in trotting out Chad Henne when we know he’s going to be replaced at some point. Ultimately I think Bortles gets on the field earlier than people expect, possibly week 5 at home against the Steelers.
5. What are your expectations for the Jaguars this season?
We always have to remind ourselves to temper our excitement during the preseason, but the Jaguars have looked even better than I expected. The defense looks like it could be around league-average or possibly better, and the offense has a good amount of young playmakers. If Bortles comes in and plays earlier rather than later, I think the Jaguars could win as many as 8 or 9 games with their schedule. I’ll go with 8-8, and say 2015 is the year they finally make the postseason again.
For more on the Jaguars, check out Black and Teal.