JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser preps for the week ahead with five quick questions for Jaguars-Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Sunday.
1. Will the picks stop?This overshadows all other Jaguars topics right now. Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles has thrown 12 interceptions in six games. Four have gone for touchdowns, including two Sunday in the loss to Miami. He knows they must stop. He's also a rookie going through an NFL learning curve. Until that learning curve flattens out and involves fewer turnovers, this will be a weekly topic.
2. Can they keep running?The Jaguars couldn't run in Weeks 1-6. That changed over the last two Sundays when Denard Robinson ran for 122 and 108 yards and helped the Jaguars have to an average of 181 yards a game. Teams could soon see this as strength and defend it accordingly.
3. Can A.J. Green be stopped?The first question here should be, "Will Green play?" The All-Pro wide receiver has missed the last three games with a toe injury, but has said this week he expects to play. The second question is, "How effective will be be?" He has said he doubts he will be 100 percent again this season. Still, 80 percent of Green is better than most NFL receivers. Jaguar's corners Demetrius McCray and Dwayne Gratz played well last week. They'll need to do it again Sunday.
4. Can the trend continue?The Jaguars' defense has been dominant the last four games, with no opponent scoring more than 16 points and the defense providing sacks and turnovers. Now, injuries are starting to pile up. No Paul Posluszny. No Andre Branch. No Alan Ball. No Will Blackmon. The defense played through significant losses last week. Can they do it again, on the road, against a team with A.J. Green? We're about to find out.
5. When will the offense grow up?Bortles is not the only hot topic on offense. The Jaguars are playing a rookie quarterback, three rookie wide receivers and potentially three rookie linemen on offense. That's just one of the reasons the team is struggling to finish drives. Red-zone efficiency and clutch, touchdown-producing plays are generally the domain of experienced players. The Jaguars don't have many of those, and they won't this season. When will they grow up? Realistically, not for a while…but the sooner the better.