The 5-8 Miami Dolphins will take on the 2-11 Jacksonville Jaguars later today in Sun Life Stadium. With the two teams preparing to face each other, I turned to Alfie Crow from Big Cat Country to answer some of my questions about the Jaguars, to get us as fans ready for the game.
Kevin Nogle (KN): The Jaguars have two outstanding young wide receivers. Justin Blackmon is starting to show why he was a top five pick last April, leading the Jaguars in receptions and averaging 13.6 yards per catch, while Cecil Shorts III in second in the league at 19.2 yards per reception, and is only two catches behind Blackmon. How is Shorts progressing from his concussion? How have those two played since the switch from Blaine Gabbert to Chad Henne?
Alfie Crow (AC): Cecil Shorts III was limited in practice during the week, but is clear to go on Sunday which should be a boost to the Jaguars offense considering he's really their only big play threat and deep receiver. The two receivers play hasn't really changed much with the flip in quarterbacks, the only real difference is that Blackmon is able to get a bit more involved because Henne will use the middle of the football field, which is where his talents are most suited. Gabbert would work the sidelines and needed receivers to get open with route running, which is something Blackmon has struggled with.
KN: The Jaguars tore apart the New York Jets defense last week for 166 yards on the ground, and they did it without Maurice Jones Drew. Can we expect to see MJD back on the field this week? And, what did the Jaguars do against the Jets to have that kind of success?
AC: Maurice Jones-Drew will be out once again and there is real concern that he may not play the rest of the season. While the Jaguars rushing total looked nice, it's a bit misleading against the Jets. Back up fullback and special teams ace Montell Owens runs hard and grinds out yards, but he had one big touchdown run which spiked their total yardage. Really, the Jaguars have struggled to run the football even with Jones-Drew and I'd expect it to struggle against the Dolphins defensive line.
KN: Cameron Wake exploded last week against the San Francisco 49ers, tallying three sacks with two more quarterback hits. Eugene Monroe and Cameron Bradfield are both talented tackles, but don't see the consistency you would probably want to see at the position. What have the Jaguars done to protect the quarterback lately, and should we expect to see Wake have a big game?
AC: The Jaguars have done poorly protecting the quarterback the past few weeks and had a really rough outing against the Jets defensive ends. Cameron Wake I expect will be a problem and if the Dolphins are smart they will line him up over Cameron Bradfield most of the game. Eugene Monroe has lapses at times, but he's been excellent most of the year and shutdown some great pass rushers. Bradfield struggles with speed rushers and Wake is someone who can give him problems. They'll need to chip him with Greg Jones and probably put Marcedes Lewis for help on the side Wake is on.
KN: Both teams are making the transition right now from trying to win this year, to getting ready for next year. A big part of that is getting some of the younger guys into the game to get experience, and try to figure out exactly what the team has ahead of the draft. Are there any players who Dolphins fans may not know, but could have an impact on this game? What do you see as the team's biggest need heading into 2013?
AC: As far as young emerging players for the Dolphins to pay attention to, rookie cornerback Mike Harris has become a reliable nickel corner on the Jaguars defense. He's a tough kid who plays the run well and tackles well and has made a lot of plays in coverage. He looks like he can be at the least going forward a very reliable defensive back.
KN: Be honest. You miss Chad Henne's mustache, don't you? Evil Robot Henne was awesome, and I really think the mustache may have been the source of all his power.
AC: I cannot lie. I do miss the Evil Chad Henne who was chucking touchdowns all over the place against the Houston Texans. It's unfortunate he shaved off his power.
I would like to say thank to you Alfie for taking the time to answer my questions this week. With Alfie's contribution here, as well as Adam Stite's appearance on our Google+ Hangout earlier this week, the guys from Big Cat Country really stepped up and helped us out this week.