For this week's Five Good Questions, I caught up with Adam Stites from Jaguars blog, Big Cat Country. Here is how that Q-n-A session went.
Q: After the display by the Jaguars in week one against the Chiefs, picking them to beat the Raiders - who gave the Colts all they could handle last week -- appears to be some wishful thinking. And yet I notice in your staff picks, you all have the Jags winning. How?
Stites: Wishful thinking is certainly a fair way to put it, although I'd go with optimistic. Really though, you're absolutely right. The Raiders are favorites and justifiably so, but I really do believe the Jaguars are a better team than Sunday's game against the Chiefs showed.
It's a young team with a lot of growing to do, but the defense really came around for the Jaguars in the second half and they forced 10 Kansas City punts. If Chad Henne can be good Henne (which can be really good), rather than typical, bad Henne (which can be really bad), the Jaguars could find success moving the ball too. That said, I definitely wouldn't put my money on the Jaguars.
It has been said that the most popular player on a bad team is the backup quarterback. In that vein, does Chad Henne really look like a better option than Blaine Gabbert?
Often the backup quarterback is everyone's favorite, but that's not the case for Henne. He's made it pretty apparent in his opportunities that he's not a good player. It's as simple as that and that's why Gabbert continues to beat him out for the starting role. Make no mistake, Gabbert has not been handed the job, he's handily beat Henne at every chance.
What Henne is a little more willing to do though, is disregard safe throws and hurl a ball into traffic. That's typically not a good thing, and with Henne it most often isn't, but on occasion it works out well. On occasion.
After a week one in which Maurice Jones-Drew had an uncharacteristic 2.8 yards per carry, do you expect he will rebound or is this a more systemic problem? The offensive line perhaps?
The biggest problem for Jones-Drew in Week 1 was absolutely Chiefs NT Dontari Poe. He could not be run on and would hold his spot at the line of scrimmage against double teams. The question now is: Is Poe on his way to the Pro Bowl or will the Jaguars interior line look like that all year? I'm hoping this week answers that.
Are there any players the team brought in this off-season, whether rookie or free agent, who give the team hope things can improve as the season goes along or is this a long term project from the jump?
I feel comfortable saying this team definitely isn't going to the playoffs this year, and I really don't think there's a player that will fix that in 2013. That said, there are a lot of young, talented players that have Jaguars fans excited. Denard Robinson and Ace Sanders on offense, along with Sen'Derrick Marks and Johnathan Cyprien are just a few guys that have been impressive so far.
There are several Jaguars players who didn't practice this week. Of those players, who do you think won't play and will be missed the most?
The injury report really isn't as bad as it looks, but the Jaguars will be without Dwayne Gratz and probably Marcedes Lewis as well. Those are the two that are probably the biggest losses for Sunday, even though no one has really heard of Gratz. A third-round rookie, Gratz took over as a starter right away and has been really good so far. After a solid start in Week 1, he suffered a high ankle sprain and won't be back for a few weeks.