It is difficult to pick out just one negative aspect of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 35-32 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night.
Starting quarterback David Garrard was bad. So was the starting secondary and there’s no need to even delve into the team’s pass-rush woes, as the
Jaguars still haven’t logged a sack in three preseason games.
All of the aforementioned pitfalls from last night should have Jacksonville fans wary heading into the 2011 season, but the most problematic position on the team has to be wide receiver.
The Jaguars opted to stand pat during the free agent period and line up with a starting group of Mike Thomas, Jason Hill and Cecil Shorts in the slot. That might have been a mistake.
There was no inherent reason to be concerned about Thomas (5-8, 198) being a No.1 target, as he’s been productive his first two years in the league and could continue the trend of smallish receivers making a big impact on passing attacks.
It was the other receivers—Hill and Shorts—that were supposed to be potential questions marks.
Well the Jaguars are three games into the preseason and neither Hill or Shorts, and Thomas for that matter, have shown that they can routinely make life easier for whoever the team’s quarterback is.
It was all too evident last night that the Jaguars are suffering from a talent deficiency at wide receiver. Garrard might be known for holding on to the ball too long but he didn’t really have a choice against the Bills as his receivers were getting little separation against a pedestrian secondary.
Hill, who had a bit of a redemption game last week against the Atlanta Falcon, caught two passes for 35 yards last night but struggled mightily to get off press coverage, which is a concern because he’s supposed to be the team’s possession receiver right now.
Then there’s Shorts, who had been drawing rave reviews in his first preseason. The rookie had a nice game against Atlanta last week after logging 52 yards on five receptions but he followed it this week with a drop and one reception, three-yard showing. He’s a rookie so it’s easy to be reactionary, but it is safe to say that he has looked a bit tentative at times.
Thomas had five receptions for 40 yards against the Bills in what was his best performance of the preseason. He at least has shown some promise but I am questioning whether he will be able to do enough to lead this below average group to mediocrity.
Maybe some other receivers like Jarrett Dillard will step up, who knows. But as of now this group of wide outs looks pretty mediocre in a league that is becoming more pass happy all the time and there isn't much reason to things will get better as the competition gets harder.
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Cecil Shorts, David Garrard, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jarrett Dillard, Jason Hill, Mike Thomas
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