Five on the Rise: Checking in on the Jaguars’ Emerging Weapons

Before the season, we featured five offensive players on the rise that had a potential to play big roles in the Jaguars’ offense this season. Let’s check in and see how they’re doing.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas had a nose for the first down marker in 2009. Source: FantasyKnuckleheads.com
Source: fantasyknuckleheads.com
  • Projected Role in 2010: Thomas is currently the leading candidate to be the Jag’s flanker or “Z”. He doesn’t have the size or ability to beat the jam as well as Mike Sims-Walker, but does have the speed and agility to be an effective #2. With good hands, run-after-the-catch ability, and most importantly, a solid rapport with QB David Garrard, Mike Thomas is poised to be a big producer this year.
  • Predicted Odds of Fulfilling this Role:  85%  -  The #2 spot is his to lose at this point and Garrard has been looking for him early and often this preseason.
  • Midseason Report: Mike is leading the team in receptions (33), second in yardage (387), has only one dropped pass, and is behind only Maurice Jones-Drew in yards after the catch (118). Besides being an effective receiver on all types of routes, Mike has been used for end-arounds, bubble screens, and all types of plays that force the defense to account for him and stay on their toes. He has become a versatile and reliable weapon in Dirk Koetter’s arsenal.

Zach Miller

Source: jaguars.com
  • Projected Role in 2010: Dirk Koetter would love nothing more than to use Miller as his version of Dallas Clark. As a conversion project, Miller has shown mouth-watering potential with his athleticism and surprisingly good hands. Del Rio mentioned that he will line up all over the field (in-line, out wide, in the backfield) and will be put in motion to get him in space and create mismatches.
  • Predicted Odds of Fulfilling this Role:  60%  -  Zach’s injury troubles this offseason are the only thing holding him back from becoming a featured player in this Offense. His ability to throw a block here or there could go a long way in preventing Defenses from keying in on him.
  • Midseason Report: So far, Zach’s injuries have not appeared to be holding him back and he has played in roughly 25% of the Jaguars’ offensive snaps (140/522). He has been targeted 11 times and caught 10 balls for 76 yards. What’s perplexing is that he’s had no plays over 11 yards and in three of the Jags’ eight games, had zero targets. His playing time would suggest there’s nothing wrong with him, but Koetter is obviously not featuring him yet in the passing game. I still think Miller is someone to keep an eye on in the second half of the season.

Rashad Jennings

Source: BleedingGreenNation.com
  • Projected Role in 2010: Jennings has shown enough development since his rookie year to become a true #2 RB behind MJD, rather than just a fill-in. He has been praised this offseason for his improvement in pass-protection and receiving out of the backfield. Rashad has prototypical NFL size and with some minor work on his fundamentals (pad level, knee bend), he can play to the full potential of his size.
  • Predicted Odds of Fulfilling this Role:  40% – The Jags will no doubt want to take some of the load off of MJD’s shoulders and Jennings is starting to show promise. Vic Ketchman has professed with great enthusiasm that he will become heavily involved in the passing game and it’s my belief with some technique improvements and greater physicality, Jennings can become a punishing force for wearing down opponents late in the game.
  • Midseason Report: Jennings’ rushing ability has not been showcased in 2010 and it appears he has become more of a role player as a receiver out of the backfield and a special teams player. He has been inactive the last two games as a non-injury scratch, indicating a lack of versatility on Rashad’s part and the coaches’ growing confidence in Deji Karim.

Deji Karim

Source: Sports.Yahoo.com
  • Projected Role in 2010: Deji’s role on the Offense in 2010 does not figure to be substantial, but I expect a few touches per game that allow him to use the skills that make him a successful kick returner.  Built similarly to Maurice Jones-Drew, defenders will likely have similar troubles keying in on Deji when he obscures himself behind big blockers. Screens, sweeps, and other plays where he can let his blocks set up and burst through the gaps could make him an absolute terror.
  • Predicted Odds of Fulfilling this Role:  25% – Deji is talented, but extremely raw. He was drafted to return kicks and that will be the priority the coaches will place on him. However, his big-play potential is too exciting to leave completely untested.
  • Midseason Report: Deji missed the first four games of the season with a broken hand and came off the inactive list to give a strong performance in Buffalo with 75 yards rushing and several huge returns to midfield. He has shown some explosiveness that is yet to be fully tapped and despite being somewhat quiet for the last few games, could also play a major role on special teams and giving MJD some much-deserved rest and still give the Jags big-play potential out of the backfield.

Kassim Osgood

Source: BleacherReport.com

  • Projected Role in 2010: Despite being used exclusively as a Special Teamer for the past few years, I believe Osgood has the desire and physical tools to turn into a reliable possession receiver for the Jags this season, as I detailed in this article.
  • Predicted Odds of Fulfilling this Role:  30% – Naysayers will undoubtedly point to his lack of receiving production in the past, but just wait until the Jags need a big receiver out wide because Defense’s are keyed in on Mike Sims-Walker and Marcedes Lewis. Kassim will be making some big 3rd down catches this year.
  • Midseason Report: In addition to his special teams duties, Kassim has been used on 25% of the Jaguars’ offensive downs. Disappointingly, he has been used most frequently as a run blocker and has only had five passes thrown his way – one for a big-play touchdown in the season opener against Denver and the other two for short completions. The Jaguars’ base personnel on offense consists of: Maurice Jones-Drew, Marcedes Lewis, Mike Sims-Walker, and Mike Thomas – each of whom are taking about 80% of the snaps. Greg Jones is used almost exclusively in run blocking situations. Tiquan Underwood has played 40% of the snaps (75% of which have been passing plays) and Osgood and Zach Miller seem to be playing complementary “decoy” roles, Miller being used mostly on passing plays and occasionally on a running play and Kassim mostly on running plays and occasionally on a passing play. My prediction is that if either of these guys do something to separate themselves, it will lead to a decreased role for the other.

-Andrew Hofheimer

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  • zoltanfrombudapest

    Other then Mike Thomas (and Karim at the returns) sadly there is very little production from thses guys. Jennings is the 3rd RB now; Miller is still so secret weapon even Jags fans see little of him. Osgood is missing more in San Diego then contributing here- aéthough nobody should forget that scary scene with a pistol with him.

    Great article Andrew.

    • jagsoldier

      It bothers me that jennings isnt getting any playing time. I didnt see anything that said he was playing bad. I think JDR is making another mistake by not putting him and getting more carries. Especially on the short yardage carries. The guy is huge and needs the ball more.

      • zoltanfrombudapest

        It seems somebody must have take the place being in the doghouse….

  • zoltanfrombudapest

    Paul Kuharsky noted your article Andrew- good job!