Round two of our Q&A is all about Johnny-on-the-spot. By that, I’m referring to one awesome reader simply known as “John.” For his great questions, we are forever in your debt. Today, we’ll tackle those questions, but we’ll also tackle a few of those common questions that agonize us all. Without further adieu, let’s get right to it.
Common Question 1: When will this lockout be over/will we have NFL football in 2011?
Shane: YES! I know that this may be a common, go to answer, but I want it on paper (okay on electronic bytes) that I truly believe a CBA is on the way, although; I don’t believe we can yet call it imminent. That being said, I’ve heard July 21st thrown around as a possible date for a completed and signed CBA. Look for a new agreement then, but keep in mind that any dates set are purely speculation, and nobody really knows the exact date the new CBA will be done.
John: Why don\’t the jaguars go with more of a 2 TE set in their offense? They could cause huge match-up problems for other teams if they had both Lewis & Miller on the field at the same time. Now imagine Thomas running across the middle and Jones-Drew or Jennings coming out of the backfield catching passes. I think Garrard or Gabbert could pick apart any defense with this line-up. Am I the only fan who wonders why the Jaguars don\’t do this more often?
Shane: I’ll field this question with a disclaimer. This is just my (somewhat) educated guess. The Jaguars will put 2 TE on the field more often than last year, but don’t expect that to be a massive number. The Jaguars really like their receivers, which could be a leap of faith on their part. Jarett Dillard will be coming off of injury, Jason Hill is expected to fully replace Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas is expected to continue to develop, and Tiquan Underwood still has a chance to find a roster spot. The Jaguars want a strong receiving core, and they’re willing to suffer some growing pains to get their. That being said, it would make complete sense in my world to put Marcedes Lewis and Zach Miller on the field together more often. Miller developed quite nicely last year, and he has very good speed for that position. The match-up problems would be a big concern for opposing teams, and it’s something Dirk Koetter has to be considering… strongly.
Common Question 2: Can the Jaguars contend for a playoff birth?
Shane: Well, the Jaguars have blown late-season playoff chances in each of their last two seasons, so; the short answer is yes. Unfortunately, the Jaguars are in the same division as Peyton Manning. Last season, the Colts experienced a freakishly large amount of injuries, and they still finished 10-6. I really think the Jaguars have to get off to a quick start, because; they play a very tough schedule, and getting a wild-card slot could be nearly impossible. The Jaguars play the Colts at Everbank Field on New Years Day to round out the 2011 campaign. There’s a decent chance that could be a winner take all game in terms of the division. The Jaguars really need to sweep the Colts to keep their divisional aspirations alive, and in all reality, that’s the best chance to make it into the playoffs this season.
John: I would like your opinion on why Lewis isn\’t considered an elite TE by most so-called experts. Lewis is not only a great catching TE, but he is an amazing blocker as well. The Jaguars would be fools not to lock him up with a long-term deal. He creates many mismatches with his size and ability. Lewis is among the top 5 TE in the NFL.
Shane: First off, let me say that you’re absolutely right. The Jaguars would be complete fools to not lock him down for a long time. The franchise tag is often applied to a player until the reach a long-term deal, and that may well be the case here. As for not being considered an elite TE, I think he’s on his way. He had a breakout year in 2010 as David Garrard’s go to guy, and he’s a great blocker as well. That being said, it was his first truly great year. Give the critics some time, and I think they’ll warm up to Marcedes Lewis as “elite.” All Lewis has to do is to continue what he’s been doing on the field.
Common Question 3: Is Jack Del Rio the man for the job?
I don’t have a definite answer for this question. If I were Wayne Weaver, and you gave me a time machine, I would still fire Tom Coughlin, and I’d still hire Jack Del Rio. That being said, having the same, middle of the road coach does get stale. I think that the lockout may have saved Gary Kubiak’s job, and the Titans just parted ways with long-time coach Jeff Fisher. That being said, I think it’s a good thing for this to be a make or break year for Jack Del Rio. He’s had plenty of time in Jacksonville. If he gets the team back in the playoffs, he deserves to stay, but this is also a great time to think about making the change. Blaine Gabbert will take over any time between this season and two seasons from now. It’s a transitional period. The big question is, will Jack Del Rio be along for the ride?
John: Just how good do you really think Gabbert will become in the NFL? Will he be in the same group as Peyton, Brady, Big Ben and Brees or will he be more along the lines of Rivers, Rodgers & Sanchez. Will the jaguars really be able to ride the BLAINE TRAIN all the way to the super bowl?
Shane: I think a reasonable expectation is that he’ll become like Rivers, Ryan, and Rodgers (I chucked Sanchize from that group, after all, he has 29 career TDs and 33 career INTs), but I also think he’ll be the best quarterback from this year’s draft. Cam Newton is going into a tough situation, Locker is doing the same, Ponder is going into a geriatric ward, and Andy Dalton will be playing for the worst team in American professional sports (according to ESPN the Magazine). Let’s not rush to a conclusion following this season, regardless of how much playing time Gabbert has. Rodgers, if you’ll recall, sat for the better part of three seasons before being handed the reigns. He struggled at points in his first full season at the helm, but he’s been dynamite since.