The Jacksonville Jaguars expect a lot from their young receiving corps in 2015. Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson, and Marqise Lee were all surprisingly effective in their rookie seasons. They’ll be joined by 2015 NFL Draft picks Rashad Greene and Neal Sterling this season as well. Those five in addition to third year receiver Ace Sanders looks to comprise the key receiving targets on the outside for the Jaguars in 2015.
Combined, they have all of five years of professional experience and most of those with playing time haven’t spent a full 16 games on the field.
If you’re general manager David Caldwell, though, you don’t expect that to hold the team back. He recently told Michael DiRocco at ESPN that the expects the Jacksonville Jaguars receivers to act like veterans and to play like veterans. Caldwell said, “They’re no longer young guys. They have to be our veterans.” This isn’t a suggestion to Lee, Robinson, and Hurns, this is a critical role that needs to be filled or the offense may sputter and die. It’s a critical role that needs to be filled or the Jaguars risk relying almost entirely on a first year running back for offensive production.
Caldwell highlighted that the young receivers shouldn’t be knocked for their limited experience. He highlighted the impacts they made as rookies and the amount of time spent on the field. Lee and Robinson both struggled with injuries but they were both productive wen on the field. Lee started slow but put together some nice games toward the end of the season.
"We have basically a Hall of Fame receiver coach. I think the other thing, too, is that those guys all had 40-some catches. It’s not like they didn’t produce at all or missed a whole year. They did some good things where you’re like, ‘OK, Allen Robinson played 10 games. Hurnsy played 16 games. Marqise played 10 games or whatever it was.’ They got some experience. – Jacksonville Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell"
Personally, I think that expecting young players like Robinson, Hurns, and Lee to lead a team along with second year quarterback Blake Bortles is a tough call to action. It’s true that the Jaguars have no other way to attack the 2015 season – especially after failing to land a veteran wide receiver in free agency – except to rely on their young players, but this is likely going to be a slog of a season filled with blunders due to inexperience. 2014 was like that and as much as these young guys are going to grow in one offseason, don’t magically expect them to be Randall Cobb.
At the same time, I love what Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell are doing. They are demanding excellence from their young players early in their careers. Bradley is a happy-go-lucky coach who sees a silver lining in most anything, but he is also demanding of his players. Playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars isn’t a vacation like it was for former cornerback Aaron Ross a few years ago. It’s going to be hard work and the young guys are going to be held to a standard regardless of how much experience they have under their belts.
A lot of national attention is placed on young players succeeding in the NFL right now, especially at quarterback. Blake Bortles is a near failure because he had a poor rookie season as the signal caller. Meanwhile, guys like Matt Ryan and Cam Newton set the bar incredibly high for young quarterbacks. The Jaguars are doing the same thing, but at almost every position. the wide receiver position is a perfect example of this for the Jags.
The 2015 Jacksonville Jaguars will sink or swim based on how their young players do. Bradley and Caldwell expect them to step up and act like veterans after just one season of playing. It’s a high calling, but it’s something I think the Jaguars culture has prepared the team for.
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