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Jaguars v. Bucs: Questions, Answers, and Etc!

I normally don't touch on College Football much on this site, but damn is this Florida-Georgia game one hell of an event.  You might not know it, but we've got some fantastic College Blogs here on SB Nation.   You can fill up on useful Gator Nation knowledge at  Alligator Army and the amazing writing over at Dawg Sports.

Ok, that aside, let's look at two questions asked by the folks over at ESPN's Scout.com Coverage

1. Can the Jacksonville offense survive without QB David Garrard at the helm?

They Say:

Garrard was putting together a fantastic season before hurting his knee last week against Indianapolis. He had put up a quarterback rating of over 100 in four of his first five games, and in his first season as the full-time starter he has six touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first five games. Garrard is a big reason the Jags are sitting at 4-2, but it remains to be seen whether the passing game can remain efficient with backup Quinn Gray under center.

The impressive Jaguars running game will be fine, but based on what we've seen from Gray in his limited playing time it does not look good. Gray is a big, good-looking quarterback with a strong arm and some scrambling ability, but that is about where it ends. He looks like a deer in the headlights when under pressure and struggles to read coverages and know where his receivers are going to be. He looks like he could be accurate given time, but he threw into coverage and showed little accuracy after taking over against the Colts. Jacksonville's offense needs a quarterback who can manage the game and avoid mistakes and turnovers while the ground game and defense give the Jags a chance. Simply put, they need Garrard in the lineup.

I say: What knee injury?  Last I checked it was a high ankle sprain, but what do I know.  Yeah, Quinn has some issues with pressure, but a lot of that comes from the fact that he is used to the scout team, rather than the starters.  I'm sure he got a bit of a trial by fire this week in practice, and I'm sure he got some experience going against some pressure.

That said, Quinn is going to get a very basic offense that is largely going to be "hand it to your left", "hand it to your right", "throw to the tight end", etc.  Easy progressions, easy check downs, nothing crazy.  I'd expect to see a lot out of Lewis and Estandia as we give Quinn plenty of low risk targets.

2. Do the Buccaneers have enough of a ground game to keep the Jacksonville defense honest?

They Say:  

With Carnell Williams out for the year the Buccaneers traded for Michael Bennett in an attempt to give them a competitive ground game, and Williams' backup Earnest Graham ran for 92 yards against the Lions last week. Jacksonville run defense is a lot stronger than Detroit's, though, and it starts up front with DTs Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. They make up probably the strongest interior defensive front in the NFL and most teams have to account for them with three offensive linemen (center and both guards). And with the offensive tackles occupied by the defensive ends there is not really anyone to block the linebackers, all three of whom can run and hit.

It will be difficult for Tampa Bay to run the ball on this defense and that will allow Jacksonville defensive coordinator Mike Smith the luxury of calling for an assortment of run blitzes and safety blitzes to try and get pressure on Bucs QB Jeff Garcia. If Tampa Bay can't run the ball with success Jacksonville's pass rushers, led by DEs Bobby McCray and Reggie Hayward, will pin their ears back and come after Garcia.

I say: Yup, that's exactly what will happen.  The Jacksonville Defense knows that it's all on their shoulders right now to keep games close enough to limit the pressure on Quinn Gray.  They have to be salivating at the thought of a weak running game and an older, albeit dangerous target in Jeff Garcia. We've not seen a super aggressive Jaguars defense, especially in the Pass Rush department, but that could all change this week.  That being said, I'm convinced that this "insider" stuff doesn't know a think about the actual roster.  No mention whatsoever of any of the injuries to the Jaguars defensive line.

Etc

Vic Ketchman has the next three games all figured out:

* Win all three and the playoffs will be a virtual lock.
  • Should the Jaguars win two of the next three games, provided one of those wins is in Tennessee, they'll still make the playoffs.
  • Win two and lose in Tennessee and the Jaguars might need help.
  • Should the Jaguars win only one of the next three but that win is in Tennessee, they'd still be in solid playoff contention.
  • Win only one and lose in Tennessee and the Jaguars' backs will be to the wall.
  • Lose all three and sound taps.

It's all simple, win and we're fine.  Lose and we're done.  It's the good ole days, the all or nothing days, the days when the fate of the season is in your hands.  None of this "depending on other teams" bull shit, just plain ole masters of our own destiny.

We're going to win this game because we've got no other choice.  If we're gonna survive until David gets back we need to take as much pressure off of Gray as possible.  Psychologically, we don't need a green quarterback thinking he's got the game in his hands, no matter how capable he might be.

So we run the ball, we attack Garcia, and we prevent turnovers and we win.  It's as simple as that.