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"Gus Bradley has brought passion and excitement": Talking Bears-Jaguars with Big Cat Country

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The Chicago Bears welcome a newer-look Jacksonville Jaguars to Soldier Field on Thursday for week 2 of the 2014 preseason. We sat down with Ryan Day of Big Cat Country

Blake Bortles - QB of the Jaguars future?
Blake Bortles - QB of the Jaguars future?
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The second week of the preseason is a good time to get a better idea of who is getting their name in the backsup list, and to try and answer any lingering questions about starters.

With Jacksonville in town, we thought it'd be a good idea to chat with SBNation's own Big Cat Country. The Bears and Jaguars share some connections, and we got some info on Gus Bradley, new running back Toby Gerhart, and more.

Make sure to follow Ryan on twitter at @theryanedward, and stop by Big Cat Country to see the answers we provided to their questions.  A big thanks to Ryan for taking the time to slap together to some answers for us.

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1. Gus Bradley enters his second year as head coach. What has he brought to this team that was lacking in the Tucker & Mularkey eras, and do you think he can be the guy going forward?

From the beginning, Gus Bradley has brought passion and excitement to a franchise that there wasn't much to be passionate or excited about. We had just been through a year of Mularkey who was completely in over his head, general manager Gene Smith made serious errors in his player evaluations leading to overpaid veterans and underperforming draft picks, and Blaine Gabbert was still our quarterback. But Bradley came in and showed right away that he wasn't going to just try and repair, or even rebuild, this roster. He was going to demolish it and start anew. In his first year, 26 players on the final 53-man roster were new to the Jaguars.

And while blowing up the roster was good and needed, he's paired it with an excitement that's infectious around the league and in the community. No matter who you are -- a player, coach, or fan -- you hear Bradley speak and you think the same thing: I want to follow this guy into battle. He's absolutely the right guy going forward, and I think that's an opinion shared by many around the league.

2. Speaking of Mel Tucker (look, a segue), the Bears have him as their defensive coordinator again this season. It was widely publicized that last year he basically was running the Bears defense, and this year he gets to run his. What should Bears fans look for? Should they cut ties?

Admittedly, I haven't followed Tucker since he left the Jaguars, but I'm glad he's gotten a chance to continue as a defensive coordinator somewhere. Even though he interviewed for the head coaching position after Jack Del Rio left, I never thought he was going to get a shot. General manager Dave Caldwell seemed like he wanted to start everything over and bring in an outside hire.

But when Tucker was with Jacksonville, I think he really came into his own as a leader. The defense was bad for Tucker's first two years, but eventually Del Rio, a defensive-minded coach, allowed Tucker to call the defense's plays in 2011. When he started doing that, the defense ranked fourth and allowed this team to at least stay competitive. With that said, I think Tucker is best when he has control. I don't know the situation in Chicago, but I'd tell Bears fans to pay attention to how much control head coach Marc Trestman is giving him. If Tucker has control, I think he can succeed in this league as a coordinator.

3. Who is standing out for the Jaguars in camp this year?

There's quite a few players who don't get a lot of national recognition that Bears fans should keep their eye on Thursday night. Wide receiver Allen Hurns was an undrafted guy out of Miami who has worked hard and is a near-lock to now make the final 53-man roster. Linebacker Telvin Smith is small for his position, but he more than makes up for it with speed and athleticism. Defensive lineman Tyson Alualu, who underperformed his first few years in the league, has made incredible strides. Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks has been solid in camp and it translated into a dominating performance against the Buccaneers.

4. If you could take one player from the Bears, who would it be and why?

Eben Britton. Just kidding. I'd probably pick wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, and that's only because I have more faith in Toby Gerhart stepping up than Allen Robinson or Marqise Lee stepping up as our premier receiver. Jeffrey is only 24 years old and shown in just two seasons that he's one of the best. That's a potential decade of Bortles-to-Jeffrey and probably too much to pass up.

5. The Jaguars brought Toby Gerhart in, seemingly to replace Jones-Drew. Gerhart has missed the last two weeks due to a hip flexor injury. Is he the future at running back, or do you see one of the other guys behind him stepping up and taking over?

Honestly, I don't know. Gerhart is talented, he's young, and he flashed in Minnesota. But we've never seen Gerhart as the feature back. He always played Adrian Peterson's understudy. Was Gerhart able to flash because he only had a handful of touches per game, or does he have a higher ceiling than we think?

5a. Seriously, why is that scoreboard so big?

You need something to watch while you're in the pools.

5b. Make up a score prediction for this hotly contested preseason game.

I think the Bears win in a high-scoring matchup. Something like 35-30. Chicago's passing game is very good at scoring points, and you have a deep roster with some talented backup quarterbacks. We'll probably be down by 10-14 points at halftime, but I think Blake Bortles is going to feast on the Bears backups and make it competitive.

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Again, big thanks to Ryan and the folks over at BCC.