Things haven't been pretty for the 4-10 Jaguars since the first quarter of the 2018 season. Once upon a time these Jaguars were 3-1 and in control of their own playoff destiny. Fast forward to December and the Jaguars have lost nine of ten games and are now in control of the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Jaguars 13-16 loss to the Redskins on Sunday was just another reminder of how much has gone wrong for the Jaguars this season. The QB situation is . . . well we all know what it is. The O-Line features two Giants cast offs, a back up center, and two players on the right side that won't likely be in any teams starting lineup in 2019. The receivers, for the most part, have shown little to make fans hopeful.
But even in a home loss to the Redskins in which the Jaguars couldn't outscore a team who was playing with their fourth starting QB of the season, there were some positives.
Let's take a look at five players who stood out for the Jaguars on Sunday.
1. Calais Campbell
Campbell, as he has been for most of his time in Jacksonville over the past two seasons, was a force against the Redskins O-Line. The stout defensive end recorded seven tackles, a sack, three QB hits and two tackles for loss. In a season that has gone wrong in so many ways Campbell's strong play against the run and in pass rushing situations has been a constant. He's now registered 8 sacks this season and with another strong performance or two could get to double digit sacks for the second straight year. His 46 pressures puts him at second on the team, trailing only Yannick Ngakoue. Campbell will turn 33 next season, but with his production and leadership the Jaguars should do everything they can to make sure he's on the team again in 2019.
2. Dede Westbrook
The Jaguars second year WR has been electric for the Jaguars in recent weeks. He's been finding ways to impact the game positively for the Jaguars more than any other player on the offensive side of the ball. Yesterday against the Redskins Westbrook returned a punt 74 yards for a score to give the Jaguars a half time lead. He also pitched in a first down catch in the first quarter, a nifty eight yard gain on a screen play, a 20 yard gain on a jet sweep and one more catch for a modest gain. His impact was felt throughout the game. Even with the offense struggling Dede shined and likely should have been featured even more, his 115 all purpose yards and clutch punt return touchdown as evidence.
3. DJ Hayden
When the Jaguars signed former first round pick DJ Hayden to a three year deal worth more than $6 million per year the move didn't exactly inspire much confidence. Hayden struggled on the outside for most of his career in Oakland and Detroit, but the Jaguars clearly found a diamond in the rough. Hayden has been superb in his new nickel role for the Jaguars and that continued on Sunday. His physicality has been a revelation. He recorded a team high seven tackles against the Redskins and resembled a nat in coverage. He picked up a couple of stops, including one on a third down that gave the Jaguars the ball back. He also picked up a QB pressure that led to a loss later in the game. I sometimes wonder if things wouldn't have gone so haywire for the defense against the Chiefs and Cowboys had Hayden not been sidelined with turf toe.
4. David Williams
An oft forgotten member of the Jaguars roster is running back David Williams. The rookie, originally selected by Denver in the seventh round of this year's draft, was signed by the Jaguars from the Broncos practice squad on October 9th. Williams was only on the field for eight offensive snaps, but he made the most of his opportunities on Sunday. Williams rushed the ball five times and gained 32 yards on the day for an average of over six yards per carry. Williams has gotten virtually no run this year, but the Jaguars wanted to see what they had with him on Sunday and he was impressive. If Williams continues to get work and has production similar to what he was able to do against the Redskins, the Jaguars may elect to him give him a shot at making the roster next season. It appears that Carlos Hyde, whom the Jaguars traded a fifth round pick for earlier this season, is likely on the way out. Despite being under contract through 2020, there is a team out after 2018. The Jaguars look as though they're prepared to use that to get Hyde off the books and save $4.75 million in cap space next year and $5 million the following season.
5. Logan Cooke
Finally we have Logan Cooke. Cooke has been far from perfect during his rookie year for the Jaguars. Drafted in the seventh round Cooke replaced Brad Nortman as the Jaguars punter this season. Cooke has had his fair share of disappointing punts this season, but he's also had some very good ones. Sunday was his best performance yet. Cooke averaged 52.4 yards per punt and pinned three of his five kicks inside the 20 yard line. He made one of the highlight plays of the day for either teams when he booted a 72 yard bomb from the Jaguars own ten yard line that flipped the field an ultimately set up Dede Westbrook's 74 yard punt return touchdown following the Redskins drive. The rookie will look to build off his strong play Sunday as the Jaguars play out their final two games of 2018 on the road against the Dolphins and Texans.
Things were downright depressing for the Jaguars on Sunday, but hope for the future is not lost. There are still a number of solid players on this ball club and it showed, even in this terrible, no good loss.
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