Know Your Enemy: Jacksonville Jaguars, Week 16

How things have changed in such a short time. Coming out of the Titans’ bye week, the Jaguars were the joke of the NFL, on pace for the worst point differential in league history. The Titans were in playoff contention (this is not a joke, it really happened). The Titans played like they expected a Pee Wee team to show up and the Jags never trailed. I brought Brad Hill back to talk some more Jags/Titans.

It’s just an excuse for me to post a picture of his excellent Twitter avatar.

Are you happy about the way the Jags are playing, even if it pretty much guaranteed that they are out of the Teddy Bridgewater sweepstakes? I’m excited that they’re making actual, tangible progress. Both sides of the ball still need work, but this is a core that should be able to start winning relatively quickly. Dave Caldwell’s pickups have been mostly good; Sen’Derrick Marks is playing incredibly well, Alan Ball has probably been the team’s best corner, and the rookies are showing plenty of promise and improvement. [Zach note: Yeah, the Titans could use another guy next to perpetually double-teamed Jurrell Casey.]

However, the main thing to take away from this second half is that players have actually gotten better under Gus Bradley and his staff, and it started happening in less than a full season. I don’t remember very many players improving under Mularkey or Del Rio.

Caldwell will get his quarterback, whether it’s in the first this year or the second, or even via unconventional methods. I see Tennessee signing Cutler, so I look forward to doubling our matchup interception total in next year’s games. [Zach note: The Bears will be super sad if they decide to make Josh McCown their “franchise” QB.]

Will MJD return next year, or will Jordan Todman and “the fumblemaker” Denard Robinson share carries in 2014? Though there are rumors he could be brought back, it just does’t make a ton of sense unless he wants a one-year deal (or at least one year’s worth of guaranteed money) and a cheap contract. Todman has outplayed Jones-Drew this year in my eyes, though I’m mostly looking at his running skills and not his pass-blocking or route-running. Robinson needs to solve his fumbling issues, but he’s shown flashes of what they hope he can become. I expect next year’s backfield to be some combination of Todman, Robinson, a draft pick, and a free agent with MJD moving on to greener pastures. I’d love to see what he could do in, say, Dallas’ offense. [Zach note: I’ll give kudos for the Jags reaching through the dregs of the waiver wire to find a few players.]

Who’s winning the AFC South first, Titans or Jags? Jags for sure. Tennessee doesn’t seem to have a defined plan; they appear to just be chucking spaghetti at the wall and hoping enough of it sticks that someone will consider it a viable meal. [Zach note: That sounds like more of a plan than what they did this year.] Jacksonville is building a roster that should be sustainable for the long-term. Tennessee has a couple of really good players, but football is the ultimate team game and that’s where I see Gus Bradley’s group having a major advantage.

Do you care at all that highlights of this weekend’s game will have a nice background of empty teal seats? Nah. Did you see the Redskins game last week? It’s late season and they’re eliminated from the playoffs…do you blame the casual fans for bailing? Also this type of game isn’t one that would bring in a lot of non-area traffic. I traveled to Florida last year and ended up going to the Bears game, but nobody’s making a trip to Jacksonville from somewhere else to watch two non-playoff teams throw interceptions and miss tackles. [Zach note: If you thought the Washington/Atlanta game last week was sloppy…]

Do you believe that Mike Munchak has the coaching chops to finish 0-6 in this AFC South, perhaps the worst set of teams this division has ever produced? It would be an impressive feat. Jacksonville and Houston stand in the way, but given how Houston has played this year they’ll probably get out of the way REAL fast. I’ll go with no; I think Tennessee wins one of their final two.

How do you think this weekend’s game will play out? I think Tennessee avenges their home loss and hands the Jaguars a loss of their own. MJD is questionable, which hurt RB depth, and Shorts is out for the season, which means…well…quick, name four Jaguars wide receivers on the active roster. Jacksonville is extremely banged up and at this point in the season is probably outmatched based on talent. I’ll say 27-23 Tennessee. [Zach note: Oh crap, we’re screwed again.]

Anything else you want to address? Do the thumbtacks in your house look like your team’s logo, or are they just regular thumbtacks? [Zach note: They are halfway painted like the Jags’ sweet helmets.]

Thanks again Brad for joining me for an episode of “who needs Prozac more when watching his team”. Once again I win, and my Prozac comes in brown ale flavor. Find Brad’s work at Bleacher Report as well.

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