With your New York Giants facing the Jacksonville Jaguars this week. So, our 'Five Questions' segment this week is with SB Nation's Jaguars web site, Big Cat Country. BCC contributor Ryan Day answers our questions.
Ed: The Jags are committed to developing Blake Bortles. The numbers aren't great right now, but do you like what you see? Can he be a long-term franchise quarterback?
Ryan: He can be the long-term answer, but I think it will take a more concerted effort by the Jaguars coaching staff to learn best how to use him and trust that (maybe) letting him play with a little more improvisation is what's best. As Bortles said this week, he plays best when given the freedom to run around and not think too much about it. Do I think that means that offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch should just let him go out there with no plan, no scripted plays, and no direction other than to wing it? Of course not. But it does mean that maybe they need to prepare differently than they have been, because he's looked tight the past few weeks.
Ed: You are game-planning AGAINST the Jaguars. How would you attack them, both offensively and defensively?
Ryan: Well, if you're attacking our offense, just press our receivers, get them off their route, and put a spy on Bortles so he can't run around. Shut down the interior running lanes and watch out for a lot of short passes over the middle and screens. Do that, and maybe mix in a few blitzes, and you'll have us right where you want us.
If you want to get after our defense, throw the ball to whomever cornerback Dwayne Gratz is covering because he is struggling. Spread the formation and don't try anything up the gut because Sen'Derrick Marks, Red Bryant, and Abry Jones are playing exceptionally well this season. And throw intermediate routes over the middle. We've been in existence for 20 years and we still don't know how to cover tight ends.
Ed: We aren't that familiar with the Jaguars. Tell us about a few guys we need to be aware of on Sunday?
Ryan: If you're not familiar with Denard Robinson, you will be. He's a second-year player out of Michigan who was a standout quarterback, but is making the switch to running back... and doing it quite well. He's done remarkably well the past five weeks, and I suspect he'll be the most frustrating part about Sunday for Giants fans.
As far as defense, we have a rookie linebacker in Telvin Smith who is so damn good. When he takes his pads off, you'd swear he's a wide receiver because he doesn't have a typical linebacker's frame. But on the field, he displays a mix of athleticism, speed, and power that is exactly what the next generations of outside linebackers need to be in the NFL.
Ed: You can take one player off the Giants roster and put him in the Jacksonville starting lineup. Who is it going to be? Why?
Ryan: I should troll and say Rashad Jennings. I really should.
But if I'm being serious, it'd probably be Odell Beckham, Jr. And it's not just the catch last week against the Dallas Cowboys, but he's been a consistent threat in the receiving game all year. Ever since Week 6, I think he's played all but only 17 offensive snaps, which is pretty remarkable.
Ed: The Jags are 1-10, and we know how frustrating losing is. Do you see hope for the future with this team, or is Jacksonville spinning its wheels and going nowhere fast?
Ryan: We suck, and I'm not going to pretend we don't. We're the worst team in the league with arguably the worst roster in the league. Do we have a lot of rookies and second-year guys playing prominent roles? Sure. And that's one of the better reasons to justifiably suck. But we're still garbage.
But with all that said, while it's easy to evaluate a team that's 11 games into its season, it's hard to judge a team with so many young guys. No one knows how these players are going to turn out. Brandon Marshall was a young backup linebacker on the Jaguars who left to go play on the Denver Broncos and BOOM he's having one of the better years for a linebacker in the NFL. You just don't know.
I can say, however, that I have hope in Bortles, which is the most important thing. And rookie offensive linemen Luke Bowanko and Brandon Linder are playing really, really well. And our secondary, despite missing two of their top three cornerbacks to season-ending injuries, hasn't played like the dumpster fire I thought they might.
I don't know if Gus Bradley is the right guy to lead us long-term. I don't know how good Dave Caldwell is at evaluating talent. Next year will be huge in terms of answering those questions. Until then, I'm just making sure I have enough whiskey to get me to 4:01 p.m.
Thanks to Ryan for his insights. Stop by Big Cat Country to learn even more about the Jaguars.