Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Donte Moncrief must play better as the team begins the second half of the season against the Indianapolis Colts.
This weekend is a homecoming for Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Donte Moncrief. When he lines up on the outside in the team’s first series, he will be playing against his former team, the Indianapolis Colts. The former third-round pick out of Ole Miss signed a one-year deal with Jacksonville for $9.6 million this offseason. The reviews have been mixed about his performance this season.
After a four-catch, 54-yard performance in the 24-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago, will the fifth-year pro take a bigger role in the Jaguars passing game the second half of the 2018 season?
Granted, Moncrief has already surpassed the number of catches he had last season (he has 29 so far) and has tied his touchdown totals in 2017 (2), but the Jaguars were hoping for something more from one of their prized free agents from this past offseason. With Marqise Lee out for the season and Keelan Cole struggling with drops, the veteran could be one of the keys to this organization’s turnaround over the final eight games.
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"“The Jaguars signed him to a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $9.6 million, hoping that would help motivate him to put together a big season in what is essentially a contract year,” writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. “He had an ankle injury early in camp, but he has been healthy since, which makes his numbers even more disappointing.”"
He has shown some improvement the last two games with 11 catches for 130 yards, but his skill set and speed should allow him to do more with his talent. The Jaguars coaching staff, like with the majority of their offense, are waiting for Moncrief to show what he can do weekly on a football field.
Moncrief is part of a free agent class that has not had the same kind of production as the previous one in 2017. There has been plenty of criticism over the first two months of the season given the team brought in Andrew Norwell, an All-Pro guard from Carolina (who signed a $66.5-million deal with $30 million in guaranteed money) who hasn’t played on the same level as last season.
Both tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and cornerback D.J. Hayden have been hurt. Niles Paul, another tight end, played well on special teams and when called upon to replace Seferian-Jenkins, but he is now out for the season. The only player who could be considered a true addition to this roster has been defensive back Cody Davis, who has excelled on special teams.
It’s Moncrief who can make the biggest impact of this group and could make a huge statement this coming Sunday.
The loss of Lee was a huge blow to the receiving corps given the team lost both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns to injury. The thought before the season Moncrief, Cole and Dede Westbrook could be an underrated trio because of their ability to create space downfield, which could aid quarterback Blake Bortles this year.
It’s safe to say the quarterback and wide receivers have all underwhelmed his season so far.
Moncrief is averaging a meager 3.6 catches and 47.3 yards receiving for the Jaguars. That must improve if the team is going to end a four-game losing streak and use the final eight games of the season to challenge for a playoff berth.
Can he make a lasting impression these final two months of the season? More important, will he become a go-to pass catcher like the team hoped he could be when offering him such a large deal this past offseason?