The news today confirms that Cecil Shorts III will not be playing for the Jaguars against the Jets on Sunday. This means two things: 1) Chad Henne will be passing more to Justin Blackmon, and 2) Blackmon must step up.
Justin Blackmon is not a league #1 receiver right now. He is tied for second in rookie receiver receptions at 39 and has a decent 557 yards and three touchdowns to his name. But he is a possession receiver who is learning the ropes still. Even after his “emergence” three weeks ago against Houston, Blackmon still finds ways to disappear from games. Last week against the Bills he recorded an impressive one catch for nine yards.
That is not what the Jaguars need from their second most productive receiver. With Shorts out with concussion symptoms, Blackmon will be the most productive wide receiver entering the Jets game, by a wide margin.
Behind Blackmon’s 39 catchs for 557 yards is Laurent Robinson who is currently on injured reserve. Behind him is Michael Spurlock with 14 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. Spurlock was released by the team last week. The next best receiver is Mike Thomas, traded to the Lions in week eight. Behind him is the next best, active receiver for the team: Kevin Elliot, with seven receptions for 70 yards.
This is going to be an uphill battle.
Blackmon must act like a true #1 receiver in the Jets game if this team hopes to win. Montell Owens will probably give the Jags three to four yards on the ground per rush, but the passing game is crucial in today’s NFL. Blackmon must make sure that the drop off without Shorts is not too great.
This will be difficult because defenses have begun to key in on Shorts more and leave Blackmon alone a bit more. This has opened up opportunities for Blackmon that weren’t there at the start of the season when he was opposite Robinson. Shorts has been key in development for Blackmon. With him out, we’ll finally get to see just how much Blackmon can affect a game on his own.
In order to really change this game, Blackmon will have to step up big.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims