Here are our answers to the questions that TitanSized editor Brandon Clark had about the Jaguars…
TitanSized: We can’t talk Jacksonville and ignore the sack margin. While it’s the pressure and not the sack that is what coaches want, the fans seem to hang their head in disgust. Has the pressure gotten better? What’s the update with DE Aaron Kampman post-surgery? Will the reduced role in 2011 help him a la John Abraham of the Falcons?
Andrew Hofheimer: The pressure has absolutely improved. Tyson Alualu has stepped up in a big way and is already the cornerstone of our pass rush this year. Expect him to be penetrating the backfield and pushing the pocket all year long. Aaron Kampman, true to his workman form, has powered through his recovery of his second torn ACL in as many years. He reportedly looks and feels as strong and healthy as ever. As far as a reduced role, Aaron typically plays 95%+ of his team’s defensive snaps and is not thrilled about being reduced to a part-timer. I think he’ll have a fire under his butt this year and I think his lessened snaps will keep him healthy and hungry. I’m predicting 8-10 sacks, lots of pressure, and probably earning himself more snaps down the stretch and in the playoffs. TS: So, Luck….I mean Luke McCown replaces David Garrard the week before the opener as history repeats itself. What can you tell us about McCown and how effective can he be? He seemed great last pre-season and then there’s that San Diego game where he ended up on IR.
AH: I’ll tell you this about Luke, he’s not going to be overwhelemed by any of this. He’s a guy that prepares every day like he’s the starter and the locker room knows he’s ready to jump in and I believe they’re ready to get behind him. There’s too much positive momentum and too much expectation in this locker room to allow the Garrard circus to set them back. If anything, I think it only makes everyone realize they need to be giving everything they’ve got because the Jaguars aren’t (and weren’t going to be in 2011) a team that can put it all on their elite QB’s shoulders and expect to win. Every player has to be contributing and they will. As far as Luke’s skills – everyone knows all the Jaguars do is run quick slants and my grandmother can complete those. Luke’s got good awareness and can get the ball downfield; with Mojo and Marcedes at 100%, don’t expect the Jacksonville offense to look much different.
TS: The Jaguars are a run-first team with play action also being a major aspect of their offense. Jones-Drew drops 15 lbs after knee surger, they lose backup Rashad Jennings, add in that the team only kept 2 RB’s…..hows the run game looking?
AH: I’d say expect to see a hearty helping of Maurice Jones-Drew this year with a little MJD sprinkled on top and a side of Mojo. Maurice is our Peyton – hopefully his neck doesn’t turn to chalk. I’d say he’s very much slated to be the workhorse this year, in a bigger way than we were expecting and possibly in a bigger way then he’s ever seen before. I think that’s just fine with him – he’d take the rock every snap of the game, if he had his way.
TS: Should the Titans be looking out for any Jaguars WR’s?
AH: None of our receivers are going to take over the game like an Andre Johnson, but ignoring them would be a mistake. Dirk Koetter loves him some Mike Thomas and he likes to get him the ball in all kinds of ways (screens, reverses, drags, you name it). When Mike’s got the ball, he knows how to make guys miss and he’s got the stocky build to power through you, too. Jason Hill can beat a defense over the top and rookie Cecil Shorts out of D-III Mt. Union appears to be the real thing and will be getting plenty of passes his way this year. Don’t forget about Jarrett Dillard either, who was a touchdown machine (NCAA record holder) at Rice and has shown a knack for third downs in his limited NFL experience.
TS: The safety position seemed to be the worst spot on the team as far as depth and talent were concerned, then the Jags went out and got Baltimore’s Dawan Landry, who I feel is one of the better strong safetys in the game. So, that leaves the free safety position. Who won it?
AH: The Jags are actually doing away with the free/strong safety designations this year. On a given play, Landry lined up on whatever side Ed Reed told him to in Baltimore and it looks like we’ll be using that system, with Landry now being the “ace” who will be calling the shots in the backfield. Courtney Greene and the recently acquired former-Jet Dwight Lowery will be the primary players at the other safety position and you may even see rookies Rod Issac and Chris Prosinski back there for a few snaps a game.