JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser prepares you for the week ahead with five quick questions for Colts-Jaguars at EverBank Field Sunday …
1. Who's the quarterback?The answer to this became clear early Wednesday morning, when the Jaguars confirmed that Chad Henne will start at quarterback Sunday. This question was more legitimate this week than it had been in months. That's because while Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said on Monday that Henne was the starting quarterback, he also added that he and the coaches hadn't specifically discussed personnel. Bradley on Monday said he still believes strongly in Henne. With the Jaguars starting two rookie offensive linemen Sunday – center Luke Bowanko and guard Brandon Linder – and possibly both rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee and rookie wide receiver Allen Robinson also starting, the decision was made to stay with the more experienced Henne at quarterback over rookie Blake Bortles.
2. Can the Jaguars keep it focused?This is guaranteed to be a topic, because when you commit as many mental errors as the Jaguars did in a loss to the Washington Redskins Sunday, focus is going to be a week-long issue. The Jaguars missed more than 10 assignments defensively Sunday. The receivers had at least that many missed assignments offensively. Add that to tackling errors and offensive line issues and it's difficult to compete, much less win.
3. Can the tackling improve?The Jaguars missed 21 tackles Sunday. Bradley has been coaching defenses in the NFL nearly a decade, and he described that as a "really high number." It is high. Too high. The Colts ran very well early against Philadelphia Monday night. Colts running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson may or may not be as dangerous as LeSean McCoy of the Eagles and Alfred Morris of the Redskins, but miss 21 tackles and they'll get yards.
4. What to do about the pass protection?The Jaguars allowed 10 sacks Sunday. They made one roster move Tuesday to address the situation by releasing right tackle Cameron Bradfield, who by one count allowed three sacks Sunday. Sam Young is expected start there on Sunday, and the team also announced early Wednesday that rookie Luke Bowanko will start at center over Jacques McClendon. But last Sunday wasn't just about Bradfield. The entire line must improve. The Colts have just one sack this season, and they're playing without perennial Pro Bowl linebacker Robert Mathis, but the Jaguars can't worry about who is and isn't playing for the Colts Sunday. They just have to get them blocked.
5. Will the Jaguars run?They haven't yet. The Jaguars struggled to run in Philadelphia in the opener, and then rushed for just 25 yards on 10 carries against Washington. Part of the issue against Washington was the Jaguars trailed early, taking them of running situations, but the hope for this offense entering the season was it could control tempo early at least in part by having Toby Gerhart and the running game be effective. So far it hasn't happened, but it's sure to continue to be a focus.