Position round-up week 1: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
By Brad Barrell
After an emotional overtime loss, it can be an understandably difficult task for fans to look at the team’s performance objectively. Don’t fret, Jaguars fans, that’s what I’m here for!
Here are my thoughts and analysis on the wide receivers and tight ends in week one against the Vikings:
- The offense as a whole – The tempo, play-calling and even the formations were all noticeably improved from last year. The emphasis of installing a more pass-oriented offense was evident from the outset. It’s easy to see the vision coach Mularkey has for the offensive unit, and our fan base should be anxious to see the improvement that is sure to follow as the team gains experience playing together.
- Cecil Shorts III – The 2nd year wideout from Mount Union University had garnered what most can now agree were unrealistically high expectations for a then rookie 4th round draft pick wide receiver paired with a rookie quarterback. He was only able to manage 2 receptions for 30 yards in his rookie campaign. He doubled his output in one game today, grabbing 4 catches for 74 yards and what was thought to be the game winning, 39 yard touchdown catch on a spectacular diving twisting catch with just 20 seconds remaining in the game. If he can consistently produce as he did today, the Jags receiving corps will be looked at as one of the deeper units in the league.
- Mercedes Lewis – The disappointment of last year’s performance by the Pro Bowler has tempered the expectations to a point where he’s become grossly undervalued. When Lewis is motivated, he is easily one of the 10 best tight ends in the NFL today. The 5 catches, 52 yards and a red zone touchdown were encouraging signs that he will be an integral part of Mike Mularkey’s tight end friendly offense.
Source: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE
- Dropped passes – the receivers didn’t do Blaine any favors in Minneapolis, dropping 5 passes, one of which was on the critical overtime drive on a slant pass by the newly-acquired Laurent Robinson. Dropped balls are drive-killers, and there will no doubt be an emphasis this week in practice on holding on to the ball.
Justin Blackmon – Although there were no glaring drops by the much-hyped rookie wide receiver, there wasn’t the expected game-breaking impact that was shown all preseason. There were a more than a few plays where Blackmon looked lost, and a poorly run route in overtime allowed the defense to knock down an out route thrown navy Gabbert. He will no doubt improve, but at this point in his development, Justin is much more comfortable after the catch than before it.
Blackmon simply wasn’t the same force he was during the preseason. Source: US-Presswire
Overall Grade: B –
With 8 different players catching a pass, and 3 players registering over 50 yards receiving, this offense won’t feature one “number one” receiver, but rather a more balanced attack, which should bode well for preventing defenses from keying in on any one receiving threat. Laurent Robinson had an up-and-down day, making a handful of big plays coupled with a few very costly drops. Even with the dropped passes from Laurent and others, Cecil Shorts III’s spectacular catch with 20 seconds left was the type of playmaking ability this team has been missing the past few seasons. Even after a gut-wrenching loss, it’s easy to get excited about what this passing attack brings to the field on Sundays.
– Brad Barrell
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