I was pleased to be joined by Alfie Crow from Big Cat Country, our Jacksonville Jaguars affiliate, to preview Sunday's game. Alfie talks about the skills of wide receiver David Thomas, whether the Jaguars have stacked people in the box against any running backs this season, how former Browns draft pick Don Carey has done, and more.
Chris: "Heading into the season, if I was asked who the Jaguars' top wide receiver was, I would have said Mike Sims-Walker. Heading into this week's game, Mike Thomas seems to be having just as good, if not better, of a season statistically than Sims-Walker is. Does Thomas look like the real deal at receiver, or is he just a player who makes a lot of "average" catches (i.e. a possession receiver)?"
Alfie: "I still think Mike Sims-Walker is the Jaguars "Number One" receiver. He draws coverages and helps Mike Thomas out. Thomas is a classic underneath receiver. He has speed to get down the field, but he's most effective on shorter routes and on quick throws where he can use his quickness in space and get YAC.
I don't want to simply call him a possession receiver because he's more than that. I'm not sure he can ever be a number one receiver, however. He needs someone on the other side to pull coverage. Not to mention the types of routes Thomas excels at is conducive to how quarterback David Garrard plays. Sims-Walker is more of a 15-yard + style route runner, who runs slants and deep posts. Garrard's not great throwing down the field, so the shorter passing leans more to Thomas' style."
Chris: "The Jaguars are the definition of an inconsistent team. One week they play competitive, the next week they get blown out, and then the next week they blow out an opponent. As a non-Jaguars fan, it's tough to get a read on how Jacksonville will play each week. Do you get the same sense as a Jaguars fan, or have you actually been able to predict some of the team's up-and-down play?"
Alfie: "Somewhat we've been able to predict it. Going out West was a problem last season, so it was kind of a given they'd struggle against the Chiefs and Chargers. They have had some games that a lot of fans expected to be heartbreaking losses that wound up to be wins, like last week against the Texans. Some fans even feel that this week against the Browns could be a letdown game coming off a huge dramatic divisional win."
Chris: "Peyton Hillis has required a lot of attention from opposing defenses. Has Jacksonville tried stacking the box against any of the running backs they've faced this year? If so, have teams just picked on the secondary when they've done this?"
Alfie: "I can't think of a game where Jacksonville has stacked the box this season. They've done fairly well slowing down running backs for the most part. Their pass defense is so bad they can't afford to stick another guy in the box to support the run. Against the Browns however, given they're starting a rookie and the play of Hillis, it's possible you'll see Courtney Greene play close to the line."
Chris: "Has Tyson Alualu turned out to be the team's best draft pick this year, or has another rookie been more in the limelight?"
Alfie: "Tyson Alualu has been by far the best rookie so far this season. Kick returner and back up running back Deji Karim has shown flashes, but Alualu has started since day one and has yet to have a poor game. He often draws up double teams because of his ability to collapse the pocket. He was definitely a surprise pick, but he's been living up to the 10th overall pick so far."
Chris: "Browns fans will recognize two of their former defensive players on Jacksonville -- safety Don Carey and defensive end C.J. Mosley. Can you enlighten us as to how both players have performed this year?"
Alfie: "I don't think C.J. Mosley has been active for a game yet and if he has I can't remember him playing. Don Carey however, began OTA's as a starting corner while Rashaen Mathis skipped them trying to get a new contract. He wasn't very good and fell down the depth chart. Right after the season started, Carey was moved to safety because of his size. He just began getting some starts under his belt, and in my opinion hasn't been very good. He's still learning a new position and there will be growing pains, but I'm not sure if he'll ever be anything more than a back up. The Jaguars are using this season as an "evaluation" for the safety spot, having opted to roll the dice with two younger players."
Once again, I'd like to thank Alfie for taking the time to answer these questions.