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September 17, 2013 at 11:07 PM

Five questions, five answers: Jacksonville Jaguars

Time for our weekly look at Seattle’s opponent, which Sunday is the Jacksonville Jaguars coach by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley (above in an AP photo).
Answering our questions is Ryan O’Halloran, who covers the Jaguars for the Florida Times-Union. You can follow him on Twitter at @ryanohalloran
Q1: What kind of reception has Gus Bradley gotten from the fans there so far?
A: Because the Jaguars are without a franchise quarterback or many name players, Bradley was thrust into the spotlight as the team’s face/appearance speaker/TV commercial pitch man shortly after he was hired and he’s thrived in that role. But that was before his team went 0-2 to start the year. Bradley remains immensely popular among the fan base because of his personality and fire, something that former coach Mike Mularkey didn’t show publicly. The hard-core fans know this is a massive rebuilding project and are willing to back Bradley (and general manager Dave Caldwell) in their youth movement … but they also want to see some signs of progress.
 Q2: This looks like a pretty big rebuilding project — what are the major issues right now in a nutshell?

A: It is a huge rebuilding project that was set up by years of poor drafting and poor free agent acquisitions by the former regime. The major issues: Which quarterback will the Jaguars draft next year? Do veterans like Marcedes Lewis, Eugene Monroe, Paul Posluszny, Dwight Lowery and Maurice Jones-Drew have a future in Jacksonville? Who are some of the core players that can be established during what will be a long season? Narrowing it down to key positions, the Jaguars in 2014 could have new starters at quarterback, tight end, running back, center, left tackle, right guard, middle linebacker, right defensive end, left defensive end and free safety.

Q3: What is the quarterback situation like this week?

A: Blaine Gabbert is unlikely to play because his right (throwing) hand still has some stitches inserted and he has yet to practice since being injured in Week 1 against Kansas City. Plus, he is still healing a right thumb he broke in the second preseason game. That leaves Chad Henne as the starter again this week.

Q4: Bradley left here with a great reputation for defense, but it looks like Jacksonville has really struggled in that area so far. What are a couple of the major problems?

A: The Jaguars’ defense is in great shape compared to their offense. The statistics are misleading – the Jaguars are ninth in total defense, but both Kansas City and Oakland in the first two games went into milk-the-clock mode early in the second half once they built big leads. Led by Caldwell and Bradley, the Jaguars concentrated on rebuilding the defense this year (including drafting five defensive backs) and will start six players on Sunday who weren’t with the team last year. The big issue is the defensive line and whether they can provide a consistent pass rush to help out a young secondary.

Q5: Finally, the Jags are as much as a 20-point underdog. Is there any real hope of an upset?

 A: The Jaguars were 14.5-point underdogs at Green Bay and Houston last year; they lost 24-15 to the Packers and blew a 14-point lead against the Texans and lost 43-37 in overtime. They also played New England close (23-16 loss at home) as a 14-point dog. I don’t give the Jaguars much of a chance to beat Seattle unless the Seahawks are in classic Letdown/Overlook Mode and give away the football several times, but I would be surprised if Seattle covered.



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