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Big Cat Country Q&A: Will this team compete for a playoff spot in 2020?

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s answer some questions ahead of the Jacksonville Jaguars facing the Oakland Raiders in their Week 15 matchup!

Cabeth from Jacksonville, FL

Q: Does Shad Khan attend each game?

A: I... don’t know? I would assume no. Most, sure. But not every single of them.

Chevin from Jacksonville, FL

Q: There seems to be a general consensus in both the media and fandom that offensive line play in the NFL is down from, say, 20 years ago. Do you agree with this and, if so, what are the culprits and what can be done about it?

A: I don’t think offensive linemen have gotten worse, per se. But I do think defensive linemen have gotten much, much better — especially interior rushers. Gone are the days where your two inside defensive linemen are 300 pound maulers whose only job is to stop the run. The quickest path between two points is a straight line and if you have an alien like Aaron Donald over the center who can pressure the quarterback or (at worst) occupy two or three offensive linemen, you’re going to look bad as a unit.

Juice from Jacksonville, FL

Q: Should we sit our starters to avoid injury or do we let them continue to play?

A: No. The coaches want to win and so do the players. Everyone wants a good résumé at the end of the season.

Al from Mt. Dora, FL

Q: Assuming the Jaguars actually clean house and we luck into competent replacements for the coaching staff and front office, how long will it take to turn this roster into a consistent Super Bowl contender? Would it take a full multi-year rebuild? Or are we just missing key pieces?

A: I think we’re looking at 2020 as another bad year while the new coaching staff and front office regime figures out what they have, especially at quarterback. I would expect Nick Foles to be on this roster and for next year to be treated only a little better than an extended preseason. The earliest this team is contending is 2021 and that’s generous.

Austin from Jacksonville, FL

Q: I was surprised to see in your last Q&A that it was stated that we need another wide receiver. How badly do y’all believe we need one? And when should we take one in the draft?

A: This team has only one true star at wide receiver and that’s DJ Chark. You need at least two outside threats to be a functional offense in today’s NFL. Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook, and Marqise Lee just aren’t good enough to command the kind of respect that Chark does. Westbrook is a fine No. 3 though.

Micah from Wheaton, IL

Q: Why has the tight end position become such a game changer for offenses?

A: Because about two decades ago, coaches found they could exploit a weakness against base defenses if they had a big, strong, relatively fast athlete in at tight end. Traditionally it was linebackers who would cover the tight end on passing downs because up until the 1990’s tight ends were little more than offensive linemen who could catch. But then guys like Antonio Gates came along in 2004 and had 102 catches because the slot cornerback was too small and the linebacker was too slow. Defenses weren’t able to figure out how best to defend it without leaving some other part of the field vulnerable, and in some ways coaches still don’t know how to defend it. Look at how Rob Gronkowski was used or George Kittle is employed by the San Francisco 49ers. How do you defend a 6’6” player who weighs 260 pounds and can run a 4.6?

Thomas from Gainesville, FL

Q: When was the last time the Jaguars beat a team they weren’t supposed to?

A: Probably the Titans earlier this season.