Dede Westbrook may have made a rookie mistake last week when he said he wanted to post a 200 yard receiving game in his debut against the Browns. But that may have been the only time Westbrook looked like a rookie in week 11.
Westbrook had a fantastic debut and immediately showed why the Jaguars elected to take the risk of drafting him in the fourth round even with his major off field concerns. In total Westbrook caught three passes for 35 yards (In the eyes of most he also caught a fourth pass, on a toe tapping and dragging clinic of a catch). While his numbers don't necessarily jump off the page, his play certainly did.
Like I mentioned before Westbrook, in my eyes, recorded four catches on the day.
His first was a beautiful fade that went for 28 yards and a first down for the Jaguars on 3rd and 8. Westbrook beat his man, Jamar Taylor, on a fade that was placed perfectly by Blake Bortles. This play showed a real chemistry with Bortles that some might not have expected so early on for the rookie receiver. Winning on a fade and being able to get your hands in the correct position isn't always the easiest thing for receivers to do, but Westbrook made it look effortless on the play.
Westbrook's first and only drop of the day came later in the second quarter when Westbrook nearly hauled in a slant pass that would have gone for a first down, but at the last moment a Browns defender darted to the ball, landing a big hit on Westbrook that forced the ball to pop out of his grasp. This would have been a really, really impressive catch if he held onto it.
Just two plays later Westbrook caught his second pass, but then fumbled the ball when attempting to get downfield. There were a plethora of fumbles on the day by both sides, thanks in large part to extreme weather conditions. Fortunately the ball rolled harmlessly out of bounds, but the Jaguars rookie wide receiver will look to tighten up his ball security moving forward.
Overall, Wesbtrook had a great performance. Even with the atrocious weather conditions he helped to open up the offense a bit. He showed that he can have an impact for the Jaguars during the remainder of 2017 and could emerge as a breakout player if he continues to show the same skill set - that is great speed and quickness, a suddenness in his change of direction, fantastic routes, and probably the best hands of any active Jaguars receiver.
In the second game of his rookie season Dede takes on the Arizona Cardinals. A once feared team filled with talent at every position has fallen into the abyss, mostly due to a combination of old age and injuries. The Cardinals are just 4-6 on the year and are down to their third string QB Blaine Gabbert. Yes, that's right. The same Blaine Gabbert that once donned the black and teal.
On the other side of the ball the Cardinals are a talented bunch. Westbrook will primarily be matched up against safeties and cornerbacks against the Cardinals defense, and occasionally a linebacker. But he could see some favorable matchups.
The Cardinals CB on the right side is Justin Bethel, who has been struggling mightily. Of course, their other starting CB is super star Patrick Peterson, who continues to excel in coverage. The third CB, Tramon Williams is playing very well too.
At safety Atoine Bethea is playing at a high level, while Tyrann Mathieu is having a bit of a down year. He's struggled a bit in coverage, but is still a dangerous weapon for the Cardinals defense.
At linebacker the Cardinals are struggling in coverage. All three of their non rush linebackers are under performing in pass coverage and could be a target of the Jaguars offense this week.
Overall the Cardinals are not fairing well against the pass as a defense this year. They rank 22nd in the league against the pass, allowing an average 243 yards through the air per game. Even worse the Cards once vaunted pass defense has given up 18 TDs through the air to just 9 INTs.
The Jaguars offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, should attempt to use Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee to attack the many week spots in coverage on the Cardinals defense. If he does that then I think Westbrook will end up having an even bigger role in the offense this week than he did in his debut, and could find great success.
PREDICTION: Westbrook will play well, again. He's a talented player and his ability becomes more and more apparent every time he hits the field. Westbrook was targeted six times by Blake Bortles in week 11. I think in week 12 he'll be targeted around the same amount of times. But thanks to a change of scenery and a leaky Cardinals pass defense Westbrook will make more out of his targets.
STAT PREDICTION: 7 Targets, 5 Catches, 87 Yards, 1 TD
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