The Jacksonville Jaguars are hoping that 2015 can be the year they finally roar to lie and get over five wins. 8-8 would be a great year for the young squad and while those seem like low goals to some of the more established powerhouses, they are great strides for a team that is just 7-25 over the last two seasons.
The biggest force behind the Jaguars in 2015 is quarterback Blake Bortles. He has been working on his game all offseason and in the preseason he has shown clear gains over his rookie campaign. He is a far superior quarterback than he was last year and it should translate to a stronger offense overall for the Jags.
So far this preseason, Bortles is 19 of 31 for 216 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He has led a handful of scoring drives, including one capped by a touchdown run that he took in himself.
All in all, it’s a pretty good stat line through two games.
But it could be even better.
While Blake Bortles has shown massive improvement for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the receivers have shown what seems to be regression. Bortles would have much better numbers (and a significantly higher completion percentage) if Jags receivers could hang onto the ball more.
So far this preseason, Pro Football Focus – whose team measures each and every down for each and every player – has Jags wide receivers, tight ends, and half backs dropping a staggering 10 passes. While some of those drops have come from second and third string players who are attempting catches by quarterbacks other than Bortles, some of them have come from players the Jags simply have to rely on.
Allen Robinson, who was the most reliable receiver for the Jaguars last season, has already dropped two passes so far this preseason. While he is still a dangerous receiver, he needs to hang onto the ball. It is expected of him in 2015, which is widely believed to be his breakout season.
Allen Hurns, who had his fair case of boggled catches last season, has another drop through the preseason. He’s expected to play the no. 2 receiver role for the Jaguars and start opposite Robinson.
Storm Johnson, who is in danger of losing his roster spot has bungled another. Fellow running back Bernard Pierce has also dropped a pass.
Nic Jacobs and Clay Harbor, tight ends who are behind Marcedes Lewis and Julius Thomas on the depth chart, both have drops to their names so far this preseason.
All of these players could see some looks throughout the regular season. So far, they aren’t doing what is a fundamental part of their jobs: catching the football.
Blake Bortles can’t carry the Jags if his receivers can’t hang onto the ball and the Jacksonville Jaguars can’t progress without Bortles and the passing attack doing better. While there’s no doubt the quarterback is getting the job done, the receivers are dropping the ball.
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