First off, let’s be clear that the Cecil Shorts injury isn’t going to derail his season. You fantasy football owners can relax and breathe a little bit. He’ll most likely be b
But if you’re a Jacksonville Jaguars fan (which you probably are if you’re reading this), the game against the Philadelphia Eagles just looked an awful lot more daunting. Shorts was one of two receivers on the Jaguars’ entire roster with game experience. Rather than replace Shorts, coach Gus Bradley is going to only bring four receivers with the team to Philly. Three of those four are rookies. One of those three didn’t contribute in the preseason. “They are a talented group; it’s just the inexperience,” Bradley said Friday. “But they’re talented.”
Now, this isn’t a post about the apocalypse. As pointed out by editor Daniel Lago:
"It’s never good to lose a veteran receiver, especially with such a young receiving corps, but this likely won’t affect the plan on offense too much. Shorts has been at his best catching passes down the field, and quite frankly that’s something this offense hasn’t done very often with Chad Henne at the helm. Allen Hurns has looked like a solid possession receiver this preseason and he’ll likely get a lot of looks from in Henne in the season opener. Jedd Fisch will probably utilize Marqise Lee a lot on bubble screens, and we really haven’t seen enough from Allen Robinson to know how he’ll be used."
The big thing to pull from that is that Chad Henne hasn’t shown any improved proficiency when throwing the ball down field, so the threat of Cecil Shorts was limited with him manning the helm anyway. However, without Shorts, the Jags have no proven big-play receiver.
The biggest play maker from the preseason was Allen Hurns, but he isn’t a speedy deep threat. Further, he is a young, raw wide out and the NFL has not been kind to rookie receivers. Without cleaner routes and a wider array of skills, Hurns should be fairly easy for the Eagles’ defense to key on and take out of the game, especially without having to worry about Shorts.
While I am optimistic that the offense will still manage to put up some points, Shorts makes the Jags far more dynamic. For an offense that frequently reverted to the running game and being one-dimensional, the Jags are one step closer to one-dimensional without Shorts. They will need to try and remained balanced against the Eagles, especially as the Eagles defense is much worse against the pass than against the run.
The biggest question mark heading into the game is Allen Robinson. Hopefully he will be able to be the “X Factor” for the Jaguars and show why he was considered a top wide receiving talent in this year’s draft class. Without any tape on him from the preseason, he could emerge quickly against the Eagles. As optimistic as this sounds, you need only look at undrafted rookie Hurns to see what you can do against teams with no preparation for a specific player. That said, the preseason just isn’t “real” like the season opener will be. Robinson should be more pro-ready than Hurns and he should be able to step up this season. It just may have to be earlier than anticipated.