JACKSONVILLE, Florida – Urban Meyer emphasized a fast attack with speed across the court.
The reality is the Jaguars don’t have a lot of them and it becomes more evident week by week as Jacksonville’s offense grows painfully ahead.
Jacksonville’s receiving unit has underperformed significantly this season. Receivers find it difficult to separate from defenders. And the drops accumulate. With DJ Chark out for the season with a broken ankle, no other player has emerged as a viable replacement. Laviska Shenault has been misinterpreted – is he a real receiver, a gadget player, anything else? Marvin Jones Jr. is the main threat to be received from Jacksonville, but he’s not a true No. 1 off and it showed.
Jamal Agnew has provided a spark at times, but it’s a converted defensive back who is still learning the job. Waiver thread collector Tyron Johnson was expected to fill a role with his speed, but he even struggled to see the pitch ahead of his release on Tuesday.
For Meyer, a trainer who prioritizes speed and offsets, it has been a weekly challenge trying to get production from a broken unit. There are no easy solutions. Jacksonville pulled out the waiver thread and cycled through receivers in the preseason and regular season. He has chosen not to add Odell Beckham Jr. or Desean Jackson on waivers and will continue to try to improve one of the weaker units on the roster by polishing and managing the roster.
“This is one of the areas that we are trying to figure out,” Meyer said.
These struggles have become more and more pronounced. ESPN credited the Jacksonville wide receivers with 18 falls, including one of Agnew’s in the end zone against the Bills on a pass from substitute CJ Beathard.
The concern is that these struggles will affect the development of rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who has visibly struggled in recent weeks. Lawrence has only had one touchdown pass since the week off, a time shot lost at Agnew against Seattle in a game Jacksonville was losing 24-0 at the time. Lawrence’s growth hinges on advancements in the passing game. And since the week off, it hasn’t been pretty.
Lawrence is just 63 for 115 for 518 yards (54%), one touchdown and one interception during that span.
The wounds gnawed at this receiving body.
First-round pick Travis Etienne had to see a solid workload catching assists, but he suffered an injury at Lisfranc in the preseason and was lost for the season. The loss of Chark was a big blow to the Jaguars. Instead of starting Jones and Chark on the outside and moving Shenault to the lunge, a more natural position, Jacksonville was forced to tinker with the formation to try and create whatever he could. Chark was also close to a true No. 1 receiver on the list. His loss forced the Jaguars to try to find a No.1 replacement.
“We need more production from our reception team. DJ Chark was a tall guy who could run fast. Good guy. I mean he worked his tail in the offseason and all of a sudden look over there and he’s down, ”Meyer said. “I’ve had times where, OK, number two is as good as number one, come in, it’s okay. We had a little trouble with the size and the speed, you know, we definitely have production, guys are doing fine. But it was a success. “
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