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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars need more than a receiver to fix struggling passing game

Roy Cummings

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(Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire

Before anyone gets too excited about the  Jacksonville Jaguars decision to claim wide receiver Jaelen Strong off waivers from the Houston Texans, it’s worth noting just why it was Strong was available in the first place.

After all, you can make the argument that as desperate as the Jaguars were and maybe still are for help at the wide receiver position, the Texans may be even more desperate.

When the Texans finally decided on Monday to carry out the plan to dump Strong that they first contemplated three weeks ago they did so despite the fact it left them with just two fully healthy pass catchers.

One of those, of course, is DeAndre Hopkins. The other is Braxton Miller, the 2016 third-round draft pick who has caught just 17 of the 32 passes he’s been targeted for since he came into the league last year.

As for Houston’s other receivers, Will Fuller is still recovering from a broken collarbone and was just returning to the practice field when the Texans let Strong go on Monday and Bruce Ellington was still in the concussion protocol.

The Texans also have rookie Andy Jones, a player they claimed off waivers from the Cowboys, cut and then re-signed after letting Strong go, which may tell you everything you need to know about Strong.

Clearly the Texans had simply had enough of Strong, who may simply be in need of a new start somewhere else and therefore may benefit greatly from the change of scenery. Surely that’s what the Jaguars are hoping.

But if the Jaguars passing game is going to benefit from the addition of Strong or any other wide receiver, it will first have to get some improved play from its offensive line and its quarterback.

The Jaguars line played remarkably well in its season opener against the Texans two weeks ago, but its play slipped markedly against a seemingly lesser defensive front during its Week 2 loss to the Titans.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Jaguars surrendered 11 total quarterback pressures to the Titans pass rushers, who blew past rookie left tackle Cam Robinson for five of those pressures.

The only thing worse than the pressure itself was how quarterback Blake Bortles handled it. Per PFF, Bortles completed just two of the nine passes he attempted against pressure while also throwing an interception for a 4.2 passer rating.

All of that is an indication that while the Jaguars do are indeed in need of some help at receiver, their needs actually run much deeper and that the addition of this receiver won’t matter if they don’t fix their other problems as well.

 

 

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

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    MB

    September 20, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    In other news, water is still wet. It’d be nice for real analysis, rather than just dumping on every player possible. Your suggestion that the Titans defensive front seven is “worse” than the Texans is a bit misleading. The Titans have an extraordinary front seven as well.

    Cam Robinson is a rookie. How about adding in the context of the game, like start 6 series in a row behind the sticks for 1st and 20 or 2nd and 20? Those calls aren’t on Bortles. I wouldn’t claim Bortles is the answer at QB, but at least lay it on him when it’s due. Most QBs struggle when behind the sticks.

    It’s week two. No one can be sure if their is a real deficiency in the Jaguars passing game, given how much we’ve seen. But sure, be as reactionary as possible.

    • Roy Cummings

      Roy Cummings

      September 20, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      The Titans front seven may be strong but it’s not as strong as the Texans. And the fact that the Jags handled that Texans front so well increased expectations for this unit. It wasn’t up to the task last Sunday and you don’t get a break because your left tackle is a rookie. Point I was trying to make is that the addition of a receiver is just a partial fix and with this receiver it may not even be that.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.

Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.

First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.

Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.

Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.

Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.

However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.

The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game

Florida Football Insiders

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.

Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.

That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.

Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.

Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.

The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.

Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.

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