Ask the Expert: Answering Questions from Steelers Blog, Nice Pick Cowher
"We’re very lucky here at Black&Teal to be part of Fansided, a wide-reaching network of blogs for every NFL team (as well as a huge selection of NBA, NHL, MLB, and other blogs as well). We’d be dumb not to take advantage of these resources, so welcome to our new feature: Enemy Intel. Each week, we’ll be checking in with the staff from the Fansided blog representing the Jaguars’ opponent for that the week."
This week, I’ve been talking with Craig Gottschalk from Fansided’s Steelers Blog, Nice Pick Cowher. Be sure to head over there and see what they’re writing about the Jaguars and to talk some smack in the comments section. Craig hasn’t gotten back to me with the answers to my questions yet, so hopefully we’ll have those posted tomorrow. In the mean time, check out my answers to Craig’s questions…
"Nice Pick Cowher: After a promising start against division rival Tennessee in Week 1, the Jags have fallen four weeks in a row. Where does the problem lie and how does the team fix it?"
Andrew Hofheimer: The problem is we have the 32nd-ranked passing game in the NFL right now and even with a strong running game and top 10 defense, that’s not a formula for winning these days. It all sits on rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert’s shoulders – the quicker he develops and gets his receivers in sync, the quicker the Jaguars will start winning games.
"NPC: Are Jag fans calling for del Rio’s head? He has one year left on contract – do you think he is in jeopardy of being fired/not signed an extension?"
AH: After the crushing last minute loss last week to the Bengals, which very much resembled a similar last-minute loss to the Panthers two weeks prior, Del Rio has drawn the venomous ire of Jaguars fans. In my opinion, our recent shortcoming are problems of execution, not coaching, but the numbers speak for themselves – Jack is in his 9th season as the Jaguars head coach and has a losing record. We’ve only been to the playoffs twice in that time, 2005 and 2007, and have come away with only one playoff win (one I’m sure Steelers fans remember). There’s been a lot of disappointing years and epic collapses near the end of the season in the Del Rio era and despite not all of that being his fault, I don’t know if owner Wayne Weaver can realistically ask the fans to give Del Rio one more year if 2011 is another disappointing season.
"NPC: What are the key match ups the Steelers should be prepped for this Sunday?"
AH: With Casey Hampton, James Harrison, and Aaron Smith already declared out, expect the Jaguars to attack a softened interior in the Pittsburgh with the running game. Aaron Kampman will also be returning to the Jaguars this week and our D-line has looked dominant at times this year, so I expect we’ll be putting Roethlisberger under plenty duress behind the shaky Steelers O-line. I think this is your classic war of the trenches – whichever team dominates the line of scrimmage in this game will end the day with a Win.
"NPC: The Jags and Steelers used to share divisions at one point and had some pretty heated and rivaled games when the Jags first entered the league. They have been in the South since 2002. Do you think the rivalry still lives on down in Jacksonville or are these two teams too far removed?"
AH: The Jaguars’ players and fans always look forward to a matchup with the Steelers. There’s just something about these games – even when the teams look completely unequal on paper, it always seems like a tight contest with a lot of hitting and a lot of emotion. In many ways, the Jaguars were built with the philosophies that the Rooneys have implemented with the Steelers, so it’s always a big deal to our organization when we play Pittsburgh.
"NPC: What are your thoughts on Tomlin hanging up on the Jacksonville media the other day when he was asked about the 2008 playoff loss and pushed further with his thoughts on it?"
AH: I like Mike Tomlin a lot – he’s obviously a smart coach and even at a young age, had no trouble winning his players over. The guy has a lot of emotion and I guess that loss stung him a little more than we realized. At least he didn’t complain about the lack of a holding call on the infamous 4th down David Garrard 32 yard run that set up the game-winning field goal…
"NPC: Bonus Question – Predictions?"
AH: The Jaguars have done a good job of winning games no one thought they would in the past few years when their backs are against the wall. I think we’ve got the advantage in the trenches on both sides of the ball, so I’m gonna be bold here.
Jaguars 23, Steelers 17