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Big Cat Country Q&A: Can the offense carry the defense to meaningful games in December?

Indianapolis Colts v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

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Let’s answer some Jacksonville Jaguars questions after yesterday’s 33-30 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Today we’re talking about Dede Westbrook, Todd Wash’s slow starts, and how far this offense can carry the team.

Timmy from Savannah, GA

Q: What’s up with Dede Westbrook? Do you think he’ll be traded or let go?

A: I just don’t think he’s good enough as a wide receiver to crack the active roster, but his experience as a returner may prompt the team to put him back there if Chris Claybrooks has another bad day like he did yesterday. The coaches like Claybrooks because of his speed and home run ability (not to mention he’s an extra backup at defensive back) but if he can’t secure the kicks then that doesn’t really matter. As far as the receivers, D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Keelan Cole are clearly the top three guys. Chris Conley is dependable on third downs. And you saw what they have in mind for Collin Johnson yesterday just before halftime as a red zone target. The receivers are the strength of this team and the offense is doing very well. I wouldn’t mess with that unless you needed a veteran returning kicks.

Matt from Jacksonville, FL

Q: You know how some offensive coordinators are good at scripting the first 10-15 plays of the game? It seems Todd Wash is equally as bad at figuring out those plays. I’ll hang up and take my answer off the air.

A: Todd Wash is a liability and two straight bad starts does not bode well for his future here. The front office didn’t do him any favors by pissing Yannick Ngakoue off. That pass rush is non-existent. And I’ve seen the defense do some good things that can clearly be traced back to him — C.J. Henderson and Andrew Wingard were schemed into their interceptions in Week 1. But Taven Bryan covering Jonnu Smith yesterday on that second touchdown near the goal line? An aversion to blitzes despite the fact the secondary was getting burned anyway when rushing four guys? He’s got to go.

Caleb from Gilbert, AZ

Q: The offense has looked really good so far this year with a lot of players to be excited about. Is there enough offensive talent to drag this team to the playoffs or at least to play meaningful games in late November and December? Or is the defense going to be bad enough to keep them out of contention?

A: I think this team is playing meaningful football after Thanksgiving, but not long after. Weeks 8-11 are going to be pivotal — they play the Los Angeles Chargers, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers. I had them going 1-3 during that stretch in my win-loss predictions before the season, but if they can go at least 2-2 during those four games we’ll be in the hunt a little longer.

Carson from Jacksonville, FL

Q: Our last two losses in Nashville were 30-9 and 42-20. Given how close this game was against arguably the best Titans team of the past few years, does this show that we’re a playoff-caliber team?

A: Well, I think the team last year that boat raced us on the way to the AFC Championship is their best version of themselves. But to answer your question, I don’t think we’re a playoff team yet. The offense gives me confidence, but the defense is bad. You need a good pass rush to be a playoff team. The Jaguars have one sack in the first two games.

Christian from Jacksonville, FL

Q: After two weeks of games, how do you honestly see the Jaguars finishing the season?

A: I predicted 6-10 before the season and I’m sticking with that until the defense figures it out. Maybe 7-9?

Al from Jacksonville, FL

Q: Are we... good?

A: Not yet, Al. But we’re closer than I thought we’d be two weeks ago.

Johnny from Auckland, New Zealand

Q: How much of a role did the referees play in this week’s loss?

A: There were three big mistakes the referees made yesterday that changed the outcome of the game and I’ll list them in terms of impact here — Myles Jack’s pass interference call, defensive pass interference on Josh Jones, and the no-call on Jadeveon Clowney being clearly offsides. I think the Jaguars win the game if that Myles Jack call doesn’t happen and I’m 50-50 on if the Jones call or the no-call on Clowney affected the bottom line. The referees affected the game more in favor of the Titans than the Jaguars yesterday.

Damian from Knoxville, TN

Q: The Titans game was a tough loss, it could’ve gone either way. How do you think this game changed the league and fans perception of our team?

A: I think you’ll see more bets on the Jaguars to cover nationally and more people tuning in on Thursday night to watch Gardner Minshew play. They’re one of the more fun teams to watch right now. An offense that can score points paired with a defense that gives up big plays? Who wouldn’t want to tune in?

Clyde from Jacksonville, FL

Q: I believe the Jaguars have found their quarterback of the future in Gardner Minshew. Am I being a homer?

A: I believe it too, Clyde. Feels good.

Kevin from Midland, TX

Q: Anyone know why D.J. Chark was only targeted four times? Any why his workload has been so low considering he is the stud of the receiving core?

A: If you were an opposing defensive coordinator and you could design a gameplan around erasing one guy, who would it be? D.J. Chark is clearly the best skill player the Jaguars have and Jay Gruden knows that. It’s why you see guys like Keelan Cole, Laviska Shenault, James Robinson, and Chris Thompson getting targets.

Josh from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Q: Hello from Canada! I’ve been a pretty big Jaguars fan for the last 10 years and I’m so glad to finally be seeing good quarterback play. How many good games does Gardner Minshew have to play before the team is his for the future?

A: If he plays the final 14 games like he has the first two, the front office will start looking into the earliest they can sign him to a new long-term contract.

Nicholas from Rockville, MD

Q: What’s the key to beating the Miami Dolphins?

A: Cover the tight ends. Pressure Ryan Fitzpatrick. Light it up in the air. Let James Robinson eat on third downs.