One of the items missed in the Jaguars dominant 45-7 win over the Texans on Sunday was that starting WR Marqise Lee left the game with a high ankle sprain and did not return. The fact that Blake Bortles had such a strong game despite that loss, just shows you the progress the Jags QB has made within this season.
Now, it looks like that high ankle sprain could keep Lee out against the 49ers this coming weekend, and possibly for the final game against the Titans. That would mean that rookie DeDe Westbrook and Keelan Cole will be the two starting WRs for Bortles at least for one week.
This is what really has made Bortles play that much more impressive down the stretch. After losing premier wide out Allen Robinson for the entire season and then Allen Hurns for several weeks mid season, Bortles has had to work with mainly Marqise Lee and “rag tag” group to compensate.
That rag tag group however has played very well. Cole has been spectacular during this win streak. On Sunday against Houston he 7 catches for 186 yards and a TD. The previous week against Seattle he had 3 catches for 99 yards and a TD. Against the Colts he had 3 catches for 49 yards and a TD. As you can see his production has shot up drastically during this streak as he’s clearly becoming a key target for Bortles.
Another WR in the fray now is Jaydon Mickens. Mickens had 5 catches for 61 yards and two TDs against the Texans on Sunday.
Without Lee it will be the rookies Westbrook and Cole and Mickens, who’s technically in his second year as last year he was on the Raiders practice squad. You can’t get as “wet behind the ears” as that, and yet these young men are performing at high levels in key spots.
The hope for the Jags is that they will have Lee and Allen Hurns back for the playoffs which will make their receiving unit that more dangerous with the extra options showing up.
It’s crazy to think that only a few weeks ago, the word around the camp fire was the Blake Bortles was the liability for the Jaguars in making a playoff run. With his play of late he’s becoming an asset as the Jaguars are peaking at the best possible time.
It’s scary to think he’s doing this with inexperienced receivers, but he is. And, with it giving the Jaguars a heck of a lot of confidence as they get ready to play in the playoff for the first time in a decade.
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