Know Your Enemy: Jacksonville Jaguars featuring Brad Hill of Big Cat Country

I’ve been going back and forth with Brad, who I know as CaliforniaJag on the Twitters, for more than the year. He was the JagsBlog to my TitansBlog and now he’s writing for Big Cat Country of the Sports Blog Network. Let’s see how he feels about Gabbert (pre-IR announcement) and the underachieving defense.

How did a California guy become a Jags fan? I wasn’t allowed to watch football until I was nine, but I did see tons of people wearing 49ers and Raiders gear (since I live in Northern California), and I decided I wanted to be a typical non-conformist nine year-old and pick a different team. My dad didn’t watch football, so I was on my own picking a team. I distinctly remember sitting somewhere with two of those little plastic helmets from Round Table Pizza vending machine and having them “battle”: they were Jets and Jaguars. Jaguars won out…luckily. Could you imagine if I was a Jets fan? Ugh. [Zach note: Seems like a no-win situation to me.]

Could Mike Mularkey be a one and done, or is there reason to hold onto him? Mularkey’s job seems to be tied to Gene Smith’s fate, which likely means he’ll be gone after the season. I’m sure Mularkey wants to be considered for the job next year under the new GM, though, so he’s coaching the end of the season like a guy who wants to save his job. That sucks, because it resulted in a quarterback change that I’m not a fan of. [Zach note: Questions answered before the dubious move of Gabbert to the IR.]

Is there a reason for the Jaguars to hurry MJD back? I think he’ll hurry himself back. Jones-Drew wanted a fat contract extension and held out this past offseason, but he didn’t get it. I have a feeling he’ll still want that extension, and he’s going to come back as soon as possible to establish that he does indeed deserve a new deal. The offense without him is last in the league in rushing, so I’m thinking he makes a difference. I expect the team to get him back in there as soon as he’s ready to go for the purposes of simultaneously deciding whether or not to give him the extension he wants and trying to build his trade value in case the new regime doesn’t want to pay a running back big bucks.

After his rookie season which seemed like what rookie QB seasons used to be, are you seeing improvement in Gabbert in his second year?
Yes, but it hasn’t been enough. It’s like a garbage truck with tricked-out wheels, a spoiler, and a bumping sound system. It’s still a garbage truck, though. I think these final six games would’ve been a good opportunity for him to take another step forward, but that opportunity is gone now. I would be surprised if Blaine Gabbert ever starts another NFL game that isn’t due to injury.

Did you breathe a big sigh of relief when Justin Blackmon had his breakout game last week?
Yep. Guy looked like trash for ten weeks. I hated the pick when he was taken in April (still do…I wanted CLAIBORNE!), but I was at least hoping he’d prove me wrong. Last week was a big step in that direction. Even if the best he can be is Anquan Boldin, that’s a hell of a lot better than being Chastin West or Mike Thomas or Reggie Williams.

Is the poor offense the main reason for the defense’s 2012 regression?
Nope, it’s mostly been the season-long absence of Daryl Smith, the slow recovery of Rashean Mathis from his torn ACL, Dwight Lowery’s absence, Derek Cox’s incessant nagging injuries, and the average to subpar play of Terrance Knighton, Jeremy Mincey, Russell Allen, and Aaron Ross.

In overtime with so little time left, would you have punted or gone for it on 4th and 10?
No joke, I would’ve tried the 64-yard field goal. Why the hell not? If I had to choose one of those options I’d have gone for it; Anger hasn’t done well pinning teams inside the 20 so odds are he would’ve just kicked it into the end zone.

What’s your best moment as a Jags fan?
Watching them end Dan Marino’s career with a 62-7 playoff beatdown. [Zach note: Which was the final day of my Dolfan days.]

What do the Jags need to do to emerge victorious in Jacksonville this weekend?
Play a lick of defense and keep moving the ball like they did last week. Also would be a good idea not to give up 273 receiving yards to one guy.

What’s your game-day beer of choice? I don’t drink beer (I don’t like the taste…not a philosophical thing), so on game day at the sports bar with NFL Sunday Ticket my glass is filled with Diet Coke. The upside: I can drink 12 and still drive home afterwards! [Zach note: Hepped up on caffeine might lead to more interesting tweets than drunk ones (see me last Sunday).]

Any plugs besides Big Cat Country?
I wrote this article for Sactown Royalty about the ineptitude of the Sacramento Kings if you’ve ever wondered what the Jaguars would be like as an NBA team. Also want to plug Chris Hansen, Lead Writer for the AFC West on Bleacher Report. He was the best man at my wedding and I was the best man at his, so obviously I think it’s worth your time to read his stuff. Upside: the AFC West is really fun to make fun of!
I always go for the Jaguars even when it would be beneficial to lose for the sake of draft position, so go Jaguars! However, if the Titans win, I won’t be as disappointed as usual.

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