Many of you old timers will remember Chris, who used to blog here under the name absurdpolitik. Chris was our resident Jaguars fan, giving us updates and insight on his team during the 2006 off-season. Chris was so annoying and so in your face about the Jags was so good and so well versed in writing about his beloved Jags that SB Nation decided to reward him with his own blog: Big Cat Country. We've seen other site contributors (like you gals and guys) have similar success, like DaBolts at Bolts From the Blue.
By the way, you will notice SB Nation does not have an IU, Purdue, Ball State, or Indiana State blog. Just saying.
Anyway, as per yearly tradition, Chris and I got to chat a bit about our teams and their twice a year grudge match. Here are five questions to Chris regarding Week 3:
BBS: With all the offensive line injuries for both our teams, I half expect the Jaguars and Colts to bring Tony Boseli and Tarik Glenn out of retirement just for this game. How have the o-line injuries affected Jacksonville's offense?
Chris: Frankly, it's shut down the entire "Jaguars style" of football. The Jaguars haven't been able to consistently block for Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, which, combined with our opponents tendency to put 8 or 9 men in the box, means that our running game goes nowhere. Without the running game, the play-action vanishes, and considering our lack of obvious threat in the receiving game, the Jaguars are forced to throw more often than they'd like. The team that was brutally powerful on the ground is now having to pass on 3rd and longs rather than running, running, and running their way across the field.
It's been a terrible two weeks if you're a fan of what the Jaguars did offensively last season.
BBS: I was chatting with TheSportsGuru the other night, and he said he thinks one of the reasons David Garrard has struggled these first two game is because teams have had a whole offseason to gameplan for him. Do you think there is some truth in that?
Chris: To an extent, yes. Having a season's worth of film helps. The bigger reason for his struggles is that without a running game, he's had to be "the guy" who makes the play, and at times he's forced a throw where he normally gets rid of the ball. I'm not throwing the offensive line under the bus because of their injury situation, but he's not getting much time in the pocket without pressure, so it's thrown his whole game off as well.
BBS: Speaking of you, me, and Guru, we still chuckle when we remember your face at the NFL Draft when we told you Jacksonville had traded up in the first round. Derrick Harvey's holdout was long and costly. How costly? How is he looking?
Chris: Harvey has an interception, Groves a sack and a forced fumble, and both have had good starts so far. Harvey has yet to dominate a game like we hoped, but he's shown versatility in being lined up at left and right end, he's flashed some speed on the edge, and he's not looking like a player who missed all of training camp. I don't know that he's much further behind than he would have been with a full camp under his belt. With Paul Spicer and Reggie Hayward performing well so far this season, Harvey's only had to perform as a situational player, something that helps cover up for his missed time.
BBS: What has new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams brought to the Jags defense? He is an upgrade over Mike Smith?
Chris: This is a bad time for that question. I've re-watched the last two games and the biggest difference between Mike Smith and Gregg Williams that I've seen is that on 3rd and long with Mike Smith meant rushing 4 and giving a quarterback all day to throw the ball for a first down. 3rd and long with Gregg Williams means all out blitz and letting a dump off or screen pass get the first down. In all seriousness, he brings the heat far more often than Smith, which is hard to watch for some of our more risk-adverse fans.
BBS: And finally, this is probably a must win for the Jaguars. It is a huge game for Indy as well, but if Jacksonville started 0-3, with two loses already in the division, that is a big hole to climb out of. What do the Jags need to do to beat Indy on Sunday?
Chris: Re-discover the style of offense that Jacksonville used to dominate teams last season. The Jaguars have to run the ball enough to open the passing game, convert 3rd downs, and win the time of possession battle. Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning, and the best defense to the Colt's offense is to keep them on the sideline for as long as possible. This needs to be a return to form game, as 0 and 3 would be an awfully big hole to crawl out of for this team.
As always, for more great blogging about the spotted kitties who call the city of Jacksonville home, please check out Big Cat Country. Big thanks to Chris for taking the time to exchange questions.