1. What can the Chargers expect to see from Blake Bortles on Sunday? Will the Jaguars offense be greatly improved with him in there instead of Chad Henne?
Expect to see an improved... everything. I can't even sit here and tell you Chad Henne is a capable backup. If he doesn't have premium guys at key positions, he falters. Blake Bortles, however, makes his teammates better. That's the difference you'll see on Sunday. Henne leaned on his teammates and Bortles elevates them.
I think the most noticeable difference you'll see is in third down conversions. Henne was atrocious, and through two weeks we had the worst third down efficiency in the league. If he'd have played the entire game last week, it'd even worse. We're still last (24.3%) but I bet you'll see us convert 35-40% of our third downs, which may not sound like much to fans of a high-powered offense like the Chargers, but to Jacksonville it is huge.
2. What are the chances that Toby Gerhart has a big game against the Chargers?
About the same as you having a big game against the Chargers. I'm not ready to write off Gerhart quite yet -- he's learning a new system, his offensive line isn't great, and the passing offense has been nonexistent. But with every touch second-year player Denard Robinson earns, that's another Gerhart can't have. I'd say his lack of production, the offensive line still learning how to play together, and Robinson's quickness all combine to hold Gerhart under 50 total yards on Sunday.
3. The Chargers like to put five receivers on the field on the same play (two of them being TEs in Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green) and then pick on the best mismatch. Do the Jaguars have the secondary depth to handle that? How have they been against pass-catching TEs so far this year?
The Jaguars don't have the secondary depth to handle three wide receivers at a time, much less five. Head coach Gus Bradley was very critical of the back seven this week, and even signed a few new guys to the active roster as a result. The secondary won't be settled by Sunday, and I don't think it will it be settled until next season. We have liabilities at free safety, linebacker, and our pass rushers can't rush the passer quick enough to force bad throws.
As far as covering tight ends, we've never been good at that. Not with Gus Bradley, Jack Del Rio, or Tom Coughlin. It's like some curse has been put on us and we haven't found a goat big enough to sacrifice yet. I wouldn't be surprised to see both Chargers tight ends have a big day against us.
4. Give us an update on how the Jacksonville rookie class has looked so far this year.
They've looked good when 1) healthy and 2) Bradley has let them onto the field. Bortles was about as good as you could expect him in his debut last week. Marqise Lee has flashed, but hamstring injuries have kept him out of the last two games. Allen Robinson is the team leader in receptions and targets, so I'd say he's our second-best pick so far. Brandon Linder has been a better guard than high-priced free agent Zane Beadles who we brought in this season, so that's saying something.
Aaron Colvin isn't playing this year due to an injury he picked up at the Senior Bowl. Telvin Smith still needs to learn the game, but brings speed and athleticism to a linebacking corps that needs it. If sixth-round draft pick Luke Bowanko shows he can start at center, he'll be one of the steals of the draft. Storm Johnson has also been hampered by injury and hasn't had a carry yet, but I think he'll be a good compliment to Denard Robinson and Toby Gerhart in the running game when he does. His skill set is right in the middle of both of them.
5. What do the Jags need to do to win on Sunday?
Pray? I don't think a win is very probable, and quite frankly it's not my expectations. I want third down conversions, throws that aren't forced into double coverage, and 4.5 yards per carry. I want some pressure on the quarterback and less dropped balls by Allen Hurns. I want the tight ends covered and for Rivers to have to check down more than a few times.
To win, we'll need to do all of those things and more. We'll need a better running game than we've showed all preseason and regular season, we'll need to convert more than half our third downs, and we'll need to sack Rivers and force him to make very poor decisions. We do all those things, and I think we have a chance.