Stud of the week:
WR Allen Robinson
Look, we all know how great of a player Allen Robinson is. Last year, he took the NFL by storm and dominated corners on a weekly basis. People had huge expectations for Robinson coming into the season (especially fantasy owners), but these expectations were met with disappointment as Robinson struggled with the rest of his offense. Defenses were focusing solely on him and forcing Bortles to go to other targets, which he couldn’t do. This all resulted in a slow start with zero scores for Robinson, despite his solid play.
This week, Robinson took advantage of a weak cornerback in Shareece Wright and dominated the middle stages of the game against Baltimore. He was making contested catches and acrobatic grabs on his way to 7 catches for 57 yards and 2 scores, including an incredible catch in the back corner of the end-zone. The weird thing about today was that Robinson did his work in the short and intermediate zones, while last year he made his money on deep sideline catches. Robinson was Bortles’ comfort blanket all day long despite Baltimore’s attempts to cover him and he kept us close in this contest.
Dud of the week:
QB Blake Bortles
Bortles hasn’t been good all season and I’ve defended him for the past two weeks. Last week I wrote a massive piece on the inability of the coaching staff to set this team (primarily the offense) up for success. We all have seen the talent that Bortles has and his ability to be a very good and effective QB, so these things can’t be his fault, right?
Wrong. The first two weeks, the game-plan was horrible and it prohibited the offense from moving. There was horrible clock management and bad miscues across the whole team that weren’t caused by one particular player. However, I really liked the game-plan this week, despite how conservative it got near the end once the Jags had a rare lead. Olsen let Bortles do what he does best (although there were some near INTs on one-read throws over the middle and such) and set up a short passing game that worked primarily in front of the LOS. We were running a fast offense that got the ball out quickly but also put receivers into space. Our RBs this week were still involved in the passing game, combining for 20 yards on 3 catches. Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee were playing better than they have all season. So why did the offense falter?
Blake Bortles is the reason. People will probably point out that the offensive line played poorly as well, but they were ravaged by injuries and against a good defensive front that included Terrell Suggs, CJ Mosely, Elvis Dumervil and Timmy Jernigan. However, despite their poor play, Bortles managed to play even worse. On the first several drives, he wasn’t trying to read the defense post-snap or go through his progressions. I don’t think he got past 2 reads at all on those drives. He telegraphed where the ball was going on the plays where Olsen was trying to let him loose. Bortles also took unnecessary sacks (including two in the final 5 minutes that basically lost us the game), held the ball too long and missed open receivers consistently. Sure, you can blame the offensive line for their mediocre play or the Special Teams unit for the blocked FG near the end, but no person or unit played as poorly as Bortles did throughout the entirety of that game. He HAS to be better if we ever want to win.
P Brad Nortman
No-one wants to talk about the punter, but I just wanted to take a quick second to look at what Nortman has done. After 4 years of Bryan Anger, the massive leg who didn’t understand punt placement, Nortman is truly a breath of fresh air for our Special Teams unit. He isn’t necessarily the best punter in the NFL, but he has been outstanding this season, especially when landing punts inside the 10-yard line. As our defense starts to improve and show flashes like they did this week, they’ll have to credit Nortman for giving them good field position to start every drive, something that Jaguars defenses haven’t had the luxury of having in many years.
Offensive Player to Watch:
OT Jeremy Parnell
While other players along the offensive line may have played worse today, Parnell was in the most stable situation and looked pretty bad. Despite playing his usual position and playing next to the same RG in AJ Cann, Parnell got consistently beat in pass protection and showed that he (like the rest of the line) still can’t run-block. Last season, Parnell wasn’t great, but he was the real tone-setter on our offensive line, bringing a sense of toughness and physicality to every snap. Where did that go? Hopefully, a healthier supporting cast will let him focus on bringing the nastiness that makes him good back to his game. If not, the team needs to look for a replacement before Parnell becomes the next Zane Beadles.
Defensive Player to Watch:
CB Jalen Ramsey
Normally, this spot is reserved for someone who hasn’t performed perfectly or has been criticized recently for making mistakes. The truth is, Ramsey is THE player to watch because he has been the team’s best defender in the first three weeks of the season and looks better than I thought he would as a CB. He’s young, he’s athletic and he’s talented, all of which come as a gift to a Jaguars secondary that has been average at best for years.
The narrative of Jacksonville being a “Seattle East” has started to fade recently, but Ramsey is a sign that the secondary being built here is still in that mold. He gets in the face of opposing receivers, makes a great play and makes sure that the receiver knows that he just got beat. He did this with Randall Cobb in Week 1 and did it again with Mike Wallace this in the first quarter. Ramsey isn’t perfect- he gives up plays and is out of position a bit too much-but watching him grow and develop will be the most fun ride fans of the team have experienced in a long time.
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