Justin Blackmon is running with the first team at camp after holding out for the first two weeks. He will now be catching balls opposite Laurent Robinson in the starting lineup. This will demote Cecil shorts from the Z spot he was keeping warm for Blackmon and may put him in the slot if he outplays a resurgent Mike Thomas.
Blackmon’s skills are unique and strong. His skill set makes him a tough player to cover and the Jaguars as a whole will benefit by gaining very good receivers at spots 3-4 who have been bumped down the depth chart due to Blackmon.
With Blackmon on the roster, the talent for the entire receiving corps runs deeper. This is a good thing for Blaine Gabbert because he will know that his “lower end” receivers have sure hands and good route running. Further, having Blackmon on the outside will guarantee that coverage and attention is placed on him – whether he proves that he deserves it or not.
When you have a big receiving threat on the outside, it is much easier to open things up underneath and frequently draws attention away from the quarterback. Good quarterbacks can change a game, but good receivers make quarterbacks more able to change those games. I’m placing a lot of emphasis on the attention that Blackmon will draw because that is a very important part of what a receiver does. Good receivers demand attention – whether that’s double coverage, pulling a linebacker into zone underneath, or only bringing four players to rush the quarterback, it all works in the favor of the signal caller.
The Jags haven’t had a receiving threat who demands such attention in years. Matt Jones was nowhere close.
I’m placing a lot emphasis on this now that Blackmon is running with the first team because it’s a big deal that changes the way the Jaguars offense will function. No longer will Shorts or Thomas try to fulfill one of the starter’s responsibilities but instead can focus on the niche jobs that they excel at. This will affect how the team practices, approaches games, and schemes.
A talent like Blackmon bolsters everything, but the assurance he gives a quarterback is hard to find.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims