Over the next week or so we will be going through the Jacksonville Jaguars 2012 roster to try and find the problems that led to the franchise’s worst-ever record: 2-14. There were so many problems with this team that it goes well beyond one article. So, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll take it one position at a time.
This time: tight end.
The tight end is a position on the rise in the NFL. Traditionally used as more of a glorified blocker, the tight end has since evolved into a versatile offensive threat. Whether it’s Rob Gronkowski or Dallas Clark, tight ends have been being worked into featured roles on offenses in recent history. Some teams shy away from pass catching tight ends and focus on those that can block, while others look toward those more in the line of Anthony Gonzalez.
The Jaguars have had one decent tight end for some time and a mix of players behind him on the depth chart. Unfortunately for the Jags, they have underperformed.
Marcedes Lewis was handed a big contract following a big 2010 season. Since his 700 yards, 10 touchdowns, and Pro Bowl berth in that season, Lewis has provided just 1,000 yards, four touchdowns, and no such recognition for the Jaguars over two seasons. It is beginning to look like the 2010 season was more of an outlier than anticipated and the 400-500 yards a season is something more in line with his real talent. Lewis was expected to become a receiving threat for the Jaguars, but this season he dropped 10.34% of his catchable balls and only racked up 540 yards.
The duty of a tight end goes beyond catching the ball, though. Lewis contributed to a weak passing game but he contributed even more as a blocker.
As pass blockers the Jaguars tight ends were not exceptional, but they were average or above. All Jaguar tight ends were graded positively or average at pass blocking. The true strength shows in run blocking, though. At 6’6″ 255 pounds, 6’7″ 280 pounds, 6’4″ 209 pounds, and 6’2″ 213 pounds, Lewis, Zach Potter, Maurice Stovall, and Isaiah Stancback are big boys and tough to move around. They were valuable in passing situations and all of them except Potter were graded positively in run blocking by Pro Football Focus.
The biggest contributor, by far, was Lewis. He was in on 347 plays as a run blocker out of 350 running plays. Lewis was the top graded run blocker out of all players on the roster with +8.4. This is part of the problem for the Jaguars. Lewis is a valuable pass catcher but his additional value as a run blocker – especially with a poor offensive line – makes him less versatile in the Jaguar offense.
The tight end position, largely Lewis, was a trapped position in the Jaguar offense. The Jags couldn’t use Lewis and Potter to go out and catch passes because they were needed on an offensive line blocking for poor talent at running back. While the Jags went 8-8 in 2010 when Lewis was more of a pass catching threat than a blocker, the emphasis has been placed on blocking lately. When you can’t get your playmakers into playmaking positions it contributes to a poor record.
Next we’ll look at the running backs.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims