1. The special teams unit has been a bad joke in 2016
Yes, Brad Nortman has been an incredible addition as a punter. Yes, Jason Myers fixed his extra point issues from 2015. No, the Jaguars special teams are not any better than they have been in the past. In fact they are worse. Yesterday the special teams of the Jagaurs got off to a great start when the Jagaurs called a fake punt ... and actually converted! It was all downhill from there. The Jaguars coverage units have been terrible in 2016, and that continued against the Vikings, when they gave up a near kick return touchdown to Cordarrelle Patterson. There's a laundry list of negative plays made by the special teams yesterday, but how about a delay of game on a kickoff? That's certainly one I've never seen before. On a crucial fourth down the Jaguars Alex Ellis was called for roughing the kicker, extending the Vikings drive, and greatly hurting the Jaguars chances of earning their first victory at EverBank Field in 2016. Oh and how bout a partially blocked punt. Yeah, the Jaguars gave up one of those too. The point is the special teams unit has been a disaster this season, save the legs of Brad Nortman and Jason Myers, but even they haven't been infallible.
2. Blake Bortles is not the quarterback of the future for the Jaguars
Sure, most fans and analysts have already decided that there is no way the Jaguars can bank on Bortles being the quarterback of the future and this performance, against a banged up Vikings secondary, was far from a good showing for Bortles. No, he didn't thow a pick six or even an interception in this one, although at least two balls could have and likely should have been intercepted by the Vikings. Bortles had his highest completion percentage in nearly a month, completing 62% of his passes on the day. He threw 1 TD and 0 interceptions with a 91.8 quarterback rating, his highest such rating since the embarrasing week 8 loss to the Titans. The thing of it is, he still didn't look like a competent NFL quarterback. He still stared down receivers, missed them high and low, and was late on several throws. It's not to say Bortles can't regain his form from 2015, or even be better than he was in 2015, but it seems like a longshot at this point that Bortles will be the Jaguars quarterback long term.
3. Marqise Lee needs to get payed
2017 will be the last year of Marqise Lee's rookie deal. He has been by far the Jaguars best offensive weapon in 2016. Yesterday was just another example of that. Marqise hauled in five of his eight targets and was able to average a ridiculous 22.6 yars per catch en route to his second 100 yard game of 2016. Lee has been one of the lone bright spots on a Jaguars offense that might be the most disapointing unit in the entire NFL. He's now racked up 728 yards in 2016 to go along with 54 catches, and he's done it on just 84 targets. When the QB hits Lee in stride it is a thing of beauty. His god given speed and athleticism shine when they are allowed to and there's no doubt that other teams are taking notice. Yes, Marqise Lee has a concerning injury history, but so have several other players that went on to have special professional careers i.e. one Jimmy Smith. If the Jaguars want to avoid a bidding war for their breakout third year receiver, their going to have to pay the man this offseason, and that should be a top priority.
4. The Jaguars need more pass rush
In several games through out the 2016 season the Jaguars pass rush has looked "built", but it's clearly not where it needs to be on a consitent basis. Yesterday they faced a Vikings offensive line that has dealt with more injuries this year than I can remember any offensive line having to deal with in a single season, yet the Jaguars struggled to create pressure and were not able to bring down Sam Bradford behind the line of scrimmage even once. Through 13 games the Jaguars have recorded just 26 sacks, -- 13 off the pace of the league leading Panthers. The Jaguars are going to have a top five pick in the NFL draft and pass rusher should be high on their list of potential targets when there are names like Myles Garrett and Jonathan Allen at the top of the draft board.
5. Jimmy Smith is in the Pride of the Jaguars
For any Jaguar fans that may have been hiding under a rock for the last week, Jimmy Smith was inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars, and joined some incredibly elite company. He's the fourth player to earn the honor, following in the footsteps of Tony Boselli, Fred Taylor, and Mark Brunell, and the sixth overall member as Wayne and Delores Weaver are the only two non players in the Pride. It was a special, special day for Jimmy and Jaguar fans everywhere -- it's too bad the Jaguars couldn't find a way to pull out a W for Jimmy. Here's a video of the tarp being taken off his name! We love you Jimmy!
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