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With the Bears and Jaguars set to play on Sunday, we reached out to Big Cat Country managing editor Alfie Crow to get a better feel on Jacksonville.
1. What's your assessment of Blaine Gabbert? Do Jags fans feel comfortable with him as the quarterback of the future?
Blaine Gabbert looks improved from his 2011 rookie campaign, but the problem is he was so bad as a rookie it would have been harder for him not to improve. His mechanics and footwork, as well as his willingness to stand in the pocket have improved dramatically, it just hasn't improved on the stat sheet or the scoreboard. As far as being the quarterback of the future? Unless he takes a big leap in the next 12 games it doesn't look like it.
2. Justin Blackmon has gotten off to a slow start after a strong preseason -- he only has 79 yards receiving through four games. What are your initial impressions of him?
I was not a big fan of Justin Blackmon in the draft, as far as a Top 10 pick style wide receiver. He's not overly big and/or fast. Blackmon has had a few drops and at times has struggled to get separation and get open. There's a lot of failure on the offense to go around, but he's been one area that's struggled a bit.
3. The Jags enter this game with only two sacks and two interceptions so far this year. They're also second worst in the league at stopping the run. What's been the biggest issue facing the defense?
The biggest issue on the Jaguars defense is rushing the passer, which makes everything else on the defense worse. With no pressure on the QB, the secondary has to cover that much longer, which will inevitably lead to guys finding opening spots in the defense. The run defense has suffered do to the injuries at the linebacker position and the defensive tackles struggling to hold the point.
4. MJD is off to a hot start. How damaging do you think his very public training camp holdout was to both himself and the team?
The only damage done with Maurice Jones-Drew's holdout was his image with a large portion of the Jaguars fan base who now feel he's a selfish player. I'll never blame someone for trying to get paid all they can in the NFL, but Jones-Drew didn't come across well publicly in his return press conference. As far as how it damaged the team, I don't think it was effected very much.
5. State of the Jaguars in 100 words or less, go.
The Jaguars are in a downward spiral state, as they enter year four of their "rebuild" under the current general manager and don't look much better than they did when Gene Smith took over.