JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser preps for the week ahead with five quick questions for Dolphins-Jaguars at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday …
1.Can the Jaguars run again?The Jaguars surprised everyone except themselves by running for 185 yards against Cleveland Sunday. The Browns played six or seven defenders near the line of scrimmage, focusing on stopping the pass, and basically challenged the Jaguars to run against the defense. They did, rushing for more yards in a game than they had in more than two years. The Dolphins will be a different challenge. The Jaguars likely won't match Sunday's output, but can they make the running game a consistent threat?
2.Can Denard Robinson be the main running back?The second-year veteran opened eyes Sunday, running for 127 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and showing he's capable of giving the offense a running threat. Robinson ran hard, and was as effective running between tackles at times as he was running to the outside. The Jaguars have been looking for the right combination at running back, and the may be close to finding that with Robinson far more involved in the rotation than early in the season. That's more important than his exact number of carries.
3.Can the Jaguars replace Paul Posluszny?Throw Andre Branch in on this question, too, because the Jaguars will have to deal with the loss of not only Posluszny – their middle linebacker and leading tackler the past three seasons – but Branch, a defensive end who has three sacks this season. Posluszny is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle and Branch likely will miss six weeks with a groin injury. The Jaguars' defense has improved significantly in the last three weeks. The question now becomes if they can maintain their recent level with J.T. Thomas at middle linebacker and without Branch in the pass-rushing and run-stuffing rotation.
4.Can Bortles bounce back?If a loss at Tennessee two weeks ago was his best game, the victory over the Browns was Blake Bortles' roughest. He threw three interceptions and wasn't nearly as accurate as in his first three starts. As a rookie quarterback in the NFL, it's not realistic to think Bortles' development will be a steady upward arrow. And he still found plenty of ways to help the Jaguars win Sunday. But after 10 interceptions in five games, how Bortles responds to his roughest performance will be a huge question as Sunday approaches.
5.Can the Jaguars win again?They snapped a nine-game regular-season losing streak Sunday, and did so with the most convincing victory of Head Coach Gus Bradley's tenure. It was, in fact, the Jaguars' most one-sided victory since a home victory over Tampa Bay in December of 2012. The Jaguars ran well. They played a dominant game defensively. They did it against a team that entered the game with a winning record. All of those are positives, and gave the team a good feeling. Now, the question is, "What happens next?"