AFC South: Josh Scobee

Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, which means all three will have to be on the active roster, because Stanzi is ineligible for the practice squad. Stanzi should start the season as the No. 2 because he’s more ready to play than Bortles, but that will likely flip-flop at some point. Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Todman and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. That is assuming Robinson continues to be very good in camp. He might end up getting more playing time than any of the other backs after Gerhart if he shows he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn’t have problems with ball security.

RECEVIERS (6)

The first four players should be locks, but it will be an interesting competition for the final two spots among Brown, Taylor, free-agent signee Tandon Doss, undrafted rookie Allen Hurns, and former practice-squad player Chad Bumphis. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Taylor, Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Doss was not a consistent receiver in his three seasons in Baltimore and has more value as a returner, but Sanders’ strength is as a punt returner and the Jags have other options at kickoff returner. I have Taylor narrowly beating out Hurns because of his experience, but I can easily see that being flipped if the Jags want to add more size. Hurns is 6-foot-3; Taylor is 6-0.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jensen flashed during OTAs and gets the edge over three other players. He’s a big kid (6-6, 270) who is a raw version of Lewis, one of the league’s best blocking tight ends. Jensen will need a year or two to develop and likely will be used as an extra blocker more than a pass-catcher.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

Some of the battles for starting jobs along the line are going to be intriguing during camp. Joeckel and Beadles are safe, but every other spot is up for grabs. Even Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, is uncertain because we don’t know how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up during camp. If it’s fine, then he will win the starting job at right tackle. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off Bowanko and two others to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

This should be the biggest upgraded position on the roster thanks to the additions of Clemons, Bryant and Hood. Despite public perception, Alualu isn’t on the bubble for two reasons: He played solidly last season, and there really isn’t anyone else on the roster as talented as he is to back up Bryant. The Jags are excited about Smith, who could end up playing more than Davis as the No. 3 LEO (hybrid end/linebacker) by the time the season is over.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Either John Lotulelei or J.T. Thomas, two key special teams players last season, could stick if the Jaguars decide to keep an extra linebacker instead of five cornerbacks, or if Hayes’ surgically repaired knee doesn’t respond well. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).

CORNERBACKS (5)

The Jags will have to decide whether to keep fourth-year player Mike Harris or Jeremy Harris, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a back injury. The 6-2, 185-pound Jeremy Harris is a better fit for what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks than the 5-10, 188-pound Mike Harris, who was a member of former GM Gene Smith’s final draft class. Blackmon has been working inside as well, which also makes Mike Harris expendable. Fourth-round draft pick Aaron Colvin will begin the season on the PUP list and doesn't count against the roster limit.

SAFETIES (4)
Chris Prosinski has seemingly been a bubble player since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, but there is too much competition for him to survive this time. Martin started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons, and that experience gives him the edge. Evans seems to be the name everyone mentions when talking about the first Caldwell draft pick to get cut, but though he might lose his starting job to Guy, he’s likely to stick around at least another year.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It would be hard for the Jacksonville Jaguars to blow their first-round draft pick.

General manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley have so much talent from which to choose at No. 3 that it would be hard to find fault with whatever decision they made. Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack, Sammy Watkins, Greg Robinson, or any of the three quarterbacks are all good options.

The same applies for the second round as well, especially if the Jaguars are going offense because Caldwell said this is a deep draft for offensive talent.

It's on the third day of the draft, however, where it gets a lot tougher. How the Jaguars perform in Rounds 4-7 will be the key to the success of the draft, Bradley said.

"I think that's where we really have to do well," Bradley said. "The first round, obviously, and the second round you have to do some things there. But this draft will be determined by how well we do in those rounds.

"Example: Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, guys like that can make a big difference there. We focus on all areas, but that's an area that we've got to concentrate on, too."

Sherman (2011) and Chancellor (2010) were both fifth-round picks who developed into key members of the Seattle secondary. That's the kind of result for which the Jaguars are hoping for this year.

They've set themselves up with enough ammunition. Because of trades with Baltimore, Detroit and San Francisco, the Jaguars have eight picks in rounds 4-7, including three in fifth round. That should increase their odds of finding at least one player who could develop into a starter.

In reality, though, they're fighting against tradition. Looking back over the past 10 years of fifth-round picks by every NFL team doesn't exactly reveal a lot of success. There are some familiar names -- Sherman, Chancellor, Riley Cooper, Chris Clemons (the defensive back), Rob Ninkovich, and Brent Celek, for example -- but the majority of the picks turned into marginal players at best or were out of the league within a year or two.

The Jaguars haven't had much success with players selected in rounds 4-7 over the past decade, either. They hit on three in 2004 -- receiver Ernest Wilford (fourth), kicker Josh Scobee (fifth) and defensive end Bobby McCray (seventh) -- but since then only five players taken in those round became significant contributors: safety Gerald Sensabaugh (fifth round in 2005), guard Uche Nwaneri (fifth round in 2007), running back Rashad Jennings (seventh round in 2009), receiver Mike Thomas (fourth round in 2009) and receiver Cecil Shorts (fourth round in 2011).

It's too early to tell if any of the players taken in rounds 4-7 the past two seasons will become significant contributors, but it appears the team hit on receiver Ace Sanders (fourth round in 2013).

Bradley said the Jaguars will try to find players in those rounds that fit a specific role. Sanders, for example, was drafted to be the team's punt returner. It's the same approach they used in free agency with linebacker Dekoda Watson, a special teams standout who played situationally on defense with Tampa Bay. The Jaguars project him as a strongside linebacker on first and second downs and a leo on third down.

"For us he was intriguing. We have a spot for him," Bradley said. "We know exactly where we want to play him. That's what can happen [in] the fifth, sixth round. Hey, we really like this guy. We have a spot that he can come in and do some good things."

Find enough of those guys on the third day and Bradley will consider the draft a success.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Each week this season I put together a list of the top 10 playmakers from the previous week's game.

Sometimes it wasn't easy, especially in the first half of the season. With the Jaguars going 0-8 I had to dig deep, and twice I had to use mascot Jaxson DeVille for his dramatic pregame entrances.

Thing were much easier in the second half of the season, though. The Jaguars played significantly better and went 4-4.

At the midway point I gave you a list of the top 10 playmakers for the first half of the season. Now that the season is over, here's the final list.

Remember, this isn't a list of the MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who made the biggest difference this season.

Following each player's name will be three numbers: their final point total, their first-half point total, and second-half point total. Points were assigned to each spot on the weekly list. The No. 1 playmaker each week got 10 points, the No. 2 got nine, the No. 3 got eight, etc.

[+] EnlargePosluszny
AP Photo/Scott A. MillerPaul Posluszny was the Jaguars' best defensive player and arguably their top player overall.
1. LB Paul Posluszny (83 total, 46 first half, 37 second half): It's no surprise that he tops the list. He was the Jaguars' best defensive player all season and you could argue that he was the team's best overall player. His 161 tackles (121 solo) were second in the NFL. He also had three sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

T2. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (77-41-36): It wasn't his best season, but he still was the Jaguars' leading rusher (803 yards) and was the third-leading receiver (43 receptions for 314 yards). He only scored five touchdowns and his 3.4 yards per carry average was the lowest of his career, but he still was the offense's biggest playmaker. He did that despite being less than a year removed from Lisfranc surgery and battling through ankle, knee and hamstring issues.

T2. QB Chad Henne (77-45-32): He finished with 13 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions, but he threw for nine touchdown passes and five interceptions in the last five games. He also threw for 3,241 yards, making him the first Jaguars quarterback to surpass 3,000 yards since David Garrard in 2009. Though he wasn't spectacular, he made a lot of good plays and rarely put the Jaguars in a bad situation.

4. WR Cecil Shorts (57-44-13): He fought through shoulder and groin injuries to catch a team-high 66 passes for 777 yards and three touchdowns. He missed the final three games because the groin injury became too severe for him to play through. For nine of the 13 games he was the team's No. 1 receiver and struggled with that role in the first month but handled it much better after Justin Blackmon's second suspension.

5. K Josh Scobee (46-30-16): He missed only two of his 25 field goal attempts. One was a 60-yarder and the other was blocked. He scored 94 points, which led the team for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons.

6. P Bryan Anger (45-34-11): He was the team's best offensive player in the first month of the season. His gross average was down 2.1 yards from his rookie season but he equaled his rookie mark of 31 punts inside the 20-yard line.

7. TE Marcedes Lewis (41-6-35): A calf injury kept him out for all but two plays in the first six games and he needed time to get used to the offense and figure out his role. Once he got comfortable, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch made him a significant part of the game plan and Lewis caught 16 passes for 242 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and four touchdowns in the last five games.

8. WR Ace Sanders (40-13-27): He was drafted to be the team's punt returner and because of injuries and Blackmon's suspension ended up playing a key role on offense. His 51 receptions for 484 yards were second on the team. For comparison, Shorts caught only two passes as a rookie and Blackmon caught 64.

9. DT Sen'Derrick Marks (37-15-22): He was the Jaguars' best defensive lineman all season and put together a career year. He set career highs in sacks (four), passes defensed (eight), forced fumbles (two) and fumble recoveries (three) in 2013. He had three sacks, eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries in his first four seasons with Tennessee. He was rewarded with a four-year contract extension last month.

10. WR Justin Blackmon (34-0-34): He played in just four games but he was the Jaguars' best offensive player in those four. He caught 29 passes for 446 yards and one touchdown. His 29 receptions are fifth on the team and the 415 yards are fourth. He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement before the 2014 season begins.

Here are the players who finished 11th-20th:

11. RB/KR Jordan Todman (32-5-27): He finished as the Jaguars' second-leading rusher (256 yards) but made his biggest mark as a kickoff returner. His 27.4 yards per return average was seventh in the NFL. He proved he could be a complementary back as well, rushing for 109 yards against Buffalo when Jones-Drew sat out with a hamstring injury.

12. S Johnathan Cyprien (31-23-9): He finished second on the team with 104 tackles and progressively improved throughout the season.

13. LB Geno Hayes (29-6-23): Played through a knee injury all season and finished third with 78 tackles and two interceptions.

14. WR Mike Brown (26-26-0): He missed four games with a fractured vertebrae but rebounded to finish fourth with 32 catches for 446 yards and two touchdowns.

15. CB Alan Ball (24-3-21): He led the team with 14 pass breakups to go along with 45 tackles and two interceptions.

16. CB Will Blackmon (21-11-10): He was a late-August acquisition who became the leader in the secondary. His strip-sack and return for a touchdown was instrumental in the Jaguars' first victory. He finished with 10 pass breakups, one interception, and 40 tackles.

17. DE Jason Babin (19-6-13): He led the team with 7.5 sacks to go along with 40 tackles.

18. WR Kerry Taylor (18-0-18): He joined the team on Nov. 4 and caught 16 passes for 162 yards in the last three games.

19. LB LaRoy Reynolds (17-0-17): The sight of him assisting on a tackle on a punt return despite losing his helmet will be one of the lasting images of the season.

20. LB J.T. Thomas (15-11-4): He had 17 tackles and a forced fumble. He started the last two games of the season and had seven tackles and a forced fumble against Indianapolis.

 

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 29
Preseason Power Ranking: 29

Biggest surprise: When the Jaguars signed defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks to a one-year, $1.5 million contract last April, they thought he’d be a good fit in coach Gus Bradley’s system. Turns out he was a perfect fit. Marks plays the three-technique, which means he lines up on the guard’s outside shoulder, and that position is supposed to provide interior pass rush. Marks finished with four sacks, nine quarterback pressures and eight pass breakups -- all numbers that equaled or surpassed the totals from his first four seasons. He seemed to make at least one impactful play every game and he accounted for two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. His play earned him a four-year contract extension as one of the building blocks of the defense.

Biggest disappointment: The Jaguars’ inability to consistently run the ball, especially early in the season, was vexing. The Jaguars switched from a predominantly man-blocking scheme to a zone-blocking scheme, and the offensive line had trouble with the transition. Four of the five starters at the beginning of the season also started in 2011, when Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing. The Jaguars mixed in more man-blocking schemes as the season progressed and things got better, but the problem wasn’t “fixed.” In addition, Jones-Drew clearly was not the same player he was two years ago. He missed all but six games last season with a Lisfranc injury and also battled ankle, knee and hamstring issues this season.

Biggest need: The Jaguars have a pretty long list of needs, but two stand out above all others: quarterback and pass-rusher. Quarterback is the top need because former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert isn’t the answer and neither is Chad Henne, who will be a free agent but wants to return to Jacksonville in 2014. The Jaguars haven’t had a bona fide threat at quarterback since coach Jack Del Rio put Mark Brunell on the bench for Byron Leftwich in 2003. New general manager David Caldwell and Bradley need a player around which to build the franchise, and the Jaguars will have the opportunity to possibly find one when they pick third overall in May’s draft.

Team MVP: The first impulse is to go with middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, whose 161 tackles ranked second in the NFL. He was clearly the team’s best defensive player and arguably the best overall player. However, what Henne did to stabilize the offense earns him MVP honors. Gabbert had played terribly in the first part of the season (seven INTs, one TD) and Henne stepped in and played the most consistent football of his career. He didn’t always light it up and he made some poor decisions and mistakes, but he kept the Jaguars in games in the second half of the season and made enough plays to go 4-4 after the bye. He threw nine touchdown passes -- including the game winner against Cleveland with 40 seconds to play -- and five interceptions over the final five games.

NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

 
The Jaguars may not have had anyone voted to the Pro Bowl, but the team is pretty well represented on the All-AFC South team.

Linebacker Paul Posluszny, defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, linebacker Geno Hayes, kicker Josh Scobee, and kick returner Jordan Todman made the team, which was chosen by the reporters covering the four teams.

Posluszny finished second in the NFL with 161 tackles (Cincinnati’s Vontaze Burfict had 171) to go along with 3 sacks, 10 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, 6 quarterback pressures and 2 interceptions. He clearly was the Jaguars’ best defensive player and arguably was the team’s best overall player.

He was the lone Jaguars player who should have earned Pro Bowl honors, but he was hurt by playing for a small-market team that finished 4-12.

Marks posted a career year in his first season with the Jaguars, making 34 tackles, breaking up eight passes, forcing two fumbles, and recovering three fumbles to go along with four sacks and nine quarterback pressures. He had 3 sacks, 8 passes defensed, 3 forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries in his first four seasons with Tennessee.

The team was so pleased with his performance that last week they signed him to a four-year contract extension reportedly worth up to $22 million.

Hayes played through a right knee injury much of the season and made 78 tackles, intercepted one pass, and broke up three others. The injury got progressively worse but he missed just one game, the season finale against Indianapolis, and will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage and remove some loose particles in his knee.

Scobee made 23 of 25 field goal attempts this season. His only miss came from 60 yards and he had a 49-yard attempt blocked. Scobee was 15-for-15 from 39 yards and in. Todman averaged 27.4 yards per kickoff return, seventh-best in the NFL. That was the best mark in the division. Houston’s Keshawn Martin finished eighth in the league (26.3 yards per return.)

Jaguars top 10: Todman tops list

December, 17, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The winning streak is over, but this was a different loss than the Jacksonville Jaguars have experienced this season.

They made the same kinds of mistakes that hurt them in the first eight weeks -- turnovers, missed assignments on defense, missed tackles -- but the difference in Sunday’s 27-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills is that the Jaguars were in the game and had a chance to win it in the fourth quarter.

Unlike their other losses, this wasn’t a blowout. In fact, it was the first loss this season by less than double digits. That means finding the top 10 Jaguars playmakers from the game is significantly easier than it was in the other nine losses.

Remember, this isn’t a list of MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who are making the biggest difference each week.

Here we go, with last week’s rankings in parenthesis:

1. RB Jordan Todman (7): The first-year back filled in for an injured Maurice Jones-Drew and was the offensive MVP. He ran for 109 yards and caught four passes for 44 yards. He proved he can be a viable No. 2 back.

2. TE Marcedes Lewis (4): Lewis caught a touchdown for the third game in a row for the first time in his career. He led the Jaguars with four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. He was a big factor in the running game pounding out a season-high 159 yards.

3. K Josh Scobee (NR): He hit two field goals, including a season-long 55 yarder that is tied for the second-longest field goal of his career.

4. LB Geno Hayes (3): Hayes picked off a pass for the second consecutive week. He had only one tackle but he played through a knee injury and still managed to deliver a big play that set up a field goal.

5. S Winston Guy (NR): Guy seemed to be all over the field. He made six tackles, sacked EJ Manuel and forced a fumble. He’s still a little wild and lined up wrong several times, but he had worked at strong safety for the first time last week.

6. DT Sen'Derrick Marks (NR): Seems like he makes one or two big plays a game and he did it again against the Bills, sacking Manuel once and recovering the fumble that Guy forced.

7. LB Paul Posluszny (6): It was another typical Posluszny performance. He led the team in tackles (13) and added a quarterback hit. He has been the Jaguars’ most consistent player this season.

8. DE Tyson Alualu (NR): He plays a spot that’s not going to produce a lot of sacks and therefore gets overlooked, but he was solid against the Bills. He had six tackles, a tackle for loss, and a quarterback hit.

9. WR Kerry Taylor (NR): He rebounded from an early drop to catch four passes for 42 yards, including a couple tough catches. Taylor was forced into significant action because of the groin injury to Cecil Shorts and did a solid job.

10. DE Andre Branch (10): He recorded a sack -- his fourth in the last five games -- and added five tackles, including two for loss. The coaching staff has been lauding his effort and now he’s starting to consistently make plays.

Shorts joins Jones-Drew on iffy list

December, 12, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars were already unsure of Maurice Jones-Drew's status for Sunday's game against Buffalo, and now receiver Cecil Shorts may not play, either.

Shorts
Jones-Drew (hamstring) and Shorts (groin) have not practiced all week and are expected to test their injuries on Friday, but coach Gus Bradley said there's a chance a decision on their chances of playing may not be made until just before kickoff.

"I think they're both very questionable," Bradley said Thursday. "We've got our fingers crossed on both of them."

Shorts has been battling a groin injury for much of the season and has managed it by not practicing on Wednesdays and being limited on Thursdays. That schedule got thrown off last week because the Jaguars played Houston on Thursday night and that wasn't sufficient time to rest his groin from the previous Sunday's game against Cleveland.

Jones-Drew
He played against the Texans but left the game late because of the pain. He's hoping the extra three days of rest between that game and Sunday's game against the Bills will be enough to allow his groin to improve.

"I've been dealing with it all year," Shorts said. "It's not getting better; it's getting worse.

"I think I'm going to go out there tomorrow and get some reps and stuff. We'll see how it feels tomorrow and then [make a] game-time decision as Gus said. If I'm able to play, I'm playing. No doubt about it. I have no problem dealing with pain but when it comes to your [groin] area, it's a little different."

Shorts leads the Jaguars in receptions (66), yards (77), and receiving touchdowns (three). If he is unable to play, Bradley said Kerry Taylor would start in his place. Taylor was signed on Nov. 4 from Arizona's practice squad and has caught three passes for 27 yards in four games.

Taylor would also be the team's kick returner if Jones-Drew is unable to play because regular kick returner Jordan Todman would start for Jones-Drew.

A third starter, safety Johnathan Cyprien, also did not practice Thursday because of a thigh injury. Bradley said he feels the best about Cyprien's chances of playing than any of the other injured players. Cyprien has started every game at strong safety this season and is second on the team with 83 tackles.

Defensive tackle Roy Miller (shoulder) and linebacker Geno Hayes (knee) also did not practice on Thursday because they were given the day off to rest their injuries. They are expected to play Sunday.

Safety Josh Evans (shoulder), guard Uche Nwaneri (shoulder), offensive tackle Austin Pasztor (shoulder), safety Chris Prosinski (concussion), and kicker Josh Scobee (left hip) were limited.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 32-28 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

What it means: It has been a while -- nearly three years, in fact -- but the Jaguars finally have a winning streak. Their victory over the Browns marks the first time they have won back-to-back games since Weeks 13-14 of the 2010 season. Jacksonville (3-9) has won three of its four games since the bye week. All of those victories have come on the road, which marks the first time since 2007 the Jaguars have won three consecutive road games.

Stock watch: It had been a pretty miserable homecoming for Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts, who grew up in Cleveland and played collegiately at Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio -- until the Jaguars' final drive. Browns cornerback Joe Haden had pretty much shut Shorts down and Shorts hurt himself with two drops. But he came up big when it mattered most, beating Haden for a 20-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 40 seconds remaining. On the other end of the spectrum, the secondary really struggled. The Jaguars had little trouble with Houston's Andre Johnson last week, holding the All-Pro to just two catches. But they appeared to be playing a man short because Josh Gordon absolutely shredded them for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Gordon's last touchdown was a 95-yard catch and run in which safety Winston Guy went for the interception instead of the tackle and rookie cornerback Dwayne Gratz chased Gordon for 20-plus yards and never dove for Gordon's legs.

Ace in the hole: With Shorts a nonfactor for most of the game and Mike Brown playing with a very sore shoulder, the Jaguars needed somebody to step up at receiver, and Ace Sanders did, catching five passes for 38 yards and carrying it once for 4 yards in the first half. Those don't sound like big numbers, but Sanders converted four third downs. He finished with a team-high eight catches for 67 yards, including a 25-yarder on the Jaguars' game-winning touchdown drive.

Turnover binge: The Jaguars went from trailing 14-7 to leading 20-14 in less than a two-minute span at the end of the first half thanks to three turnovers. Two were interceptions, which double the amount the Jaguars' secondary had entering the game. Rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien picked off the first pass of his career, which led to Maurice Jones-Drew's touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis to tie the game with 1:24 remaining. Gratz intercepted Brandon Weeden's next pass, which led to Josh Scobee's 44-yard field goal and a 17-14 lead with 52 seconds remaining. The Browns tried to drive for a field goal but defensive end Jason Babin knocked the ball from Weeden's hand and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks recovered the ball and returned it to the Cleveland 18-yard line with five seconds remaining. Scobee hit a 36-yard field goal to give the Jaguars a six-point lead.

What's next: The Jaguars will play host to the Houston Texans on Thursday night.

Rapid Reaction: Jacksonville Jaguars

November, 24, 2013
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HOUSTON -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 13-6 victory against the Houston Texans.

What it means: The Jaguars are on a roll after Sunday’s victory. That’s two victories in their last three games and they’re entering a stretch of winnable games in December: Cleveland, Houston, Buffalo and Tennessee. Part of the success is due to an easier schedule in the second half of the season, but the Jaguars have also played better against the run in the three games since their bye week.

Stock watch: The Jaguars’ running game, which has been the worst in the NFL all season, showed up in a big way against the Texans. The Jaguars ran for a season-high 120 yards, the first time they have rushed for more than 100 this season. Maurice Jones-Drew also had his best game of the season against the Texans. He ran for a season-high 84 yards and caught six passes for 60 yards to give him a season-high 144 total yards. His previous best was 71 yards rushing against the Denver Broncos and 122 total yards against the San Francisco 49ers.

Passing grade: One week after giving up 419 yards passing to Carson Palmer, the Jaguars clamped down on the Texans and quarterback Case Keenum. He completed 15 of 27 passes for 130 yards and no touchdowns. Receiver Andre Johnson, who came into the game second in the NFL with 72 catches, had just one catch for 15 yards until less than two minutes remained.

Ugly answer: The Texans took the opening possession of the second half and drove 83 yards in 6:34 and kicked a field goal to cut the Jaguars’ lead to 10-6. The Jaguars’ answer was less than impressive. They drove the ball from their own 20 to the Houston 31, but had to overcome three penalties and had a pass that was almost intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Chad Henne also simply dropped the ball while he was bringing his arm back to throw and the drive ended when Josh Scobee’s 49-yard field goal attempt was blocked. Plus, they got a first down in the middle of the drive when Antonio Smith was penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Henne.

What’s next: The Jaguars will play at the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 11

November, 18, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars' 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals:

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesThe Cardinals limited Maurice Jones-Drew to just 23 yards on 14 carries.
Aggressive approach: Coach Gus Bradley wants his team to take some chances. They won't always work, but being conservative doesn't make much sense for a team that entered the game 1-8, either. That's why he went for it on fourth down from his own 38-yard line less than three minutes into the game and allowed kicker Josh Scobee to attempt a 60-yard field goal just before the half. We will see more of those decisions, Bradley said. "No one wants to [lose]," he said. "We'll work hard to avoid it, but what I think what I liked is we weren't afraid to fail. We were bold in our decisions. The fourth-down call, trying the 60-yard field goal, there was many situations where I felt like we were bold and I told our team that we need to take that personality on and reflect it. We'll continue to build in that direction."

Anger management: Punter Bryan Anger kept the Jaguars in the game in the second half while the offense was sputtering by pinning the Cardinals deep in their own territory. Arizona started four consecutive drives at its 9, 10, 2 and 10 in the third and fourth quarters following Anger punts. In all but one case the Cardinals ended up gaining fewer than 7 yards. The only exception came on Michael Floyd's 91-yard catch-and-run that was helped by three missed tackles. Anger averaged 47.8 yards on eight punts and put six inside the 20.

Ground struggles: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew continues to struggle. He ran for 41 yards on 21 carries in last week's game against Tennessee and had 23 yards on 14 carries against Arizona. Part of the issue is the offensive line, which is starting its Nos. 3 and 4 offensive tackles and hasn't had starting left guard Will Rackley since the San Francisco game on Oct. 27. However, the line hasn't played well when it was completely healthy, either. Jones-Drew, who missed the final 10 games last season with a Lisfranc injury and has battled ankle and knee issues this season, looks a half-step slow and doesn't seem to have the burst he did throughout his career. The Cardinals did come into the game with the NFL's No. 3 rush defense, but the Jaguars need a better showing than 23 yards. "They loaded the box and wanted to make sure that we couldn't run the ball," Jones-Drew said. "Sometimes you have to keep fighting that uphill battle and hopefully things will break."

Pressure: The Jaguars didn't have much luck getting to Carson Palmer with a four-man rush, so they went with some different pressure packages that included linebackers or defensive backs rushing. Bradley had challenged the front four to get more pressure because the defense has been vulnerable when blitzing because the secondary hadn't been able to hold the coverage until the pressure got to the quarterback. That's what happened again Sunday. The Cardinals' two biggest pass plays -- the 91-yard touchdown and a 37-yard pass to Floyd -- came when the Jaguars sent extra rushers and the Cardinals picked it up.

Finally a fast start for the Jaguars

November, 10, 2013
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Sometimes it really is about how you start.

The Jacksonville Jaguars finally got a good one on Sunday and it played a critical role in the team’s 29-27 victory against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field.

Posluszny
Linebacker Paul Posluszny knocked the ball out of running back Chris Johnson's hands and recovered it at the Tennessee 19 on the game’s first offensive snap. Three plays later, the Jaguars had a 7-0 lead.

It was the first time the Jaguars were ahead in a game since they held a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter against St. Louis in Week 5.

"It was great, wasn’t it?" coach Gus Bradley said. "We talked about the importance of finishing and that’s critical. I told you last week it would be nice to start faster once in a while. To have that come into play this week was great. It was a great confidence-builder."

The Jaguars added a 32-yard Josh Scobee field goal later in the first quarter, and Scobee hit a 44-yarder early in the second quarter for a 13-0 lead. Like the touchdown, Scobee’s second field goal was set up by a turnover: rookie cornerback Dwayne Gratz's interception and 17-yard return.

"To start the game off like that, it doesn’t get any better," Posluszny said. "It doesn’t get any better than that, so to come out, play fast from the start, [and get] three turnovers in the first half, to do that it, was an enormous jump for our defense."

The Jaguars had been pretty awful early in the first quarter through the first eight games, getting outscored 70-15. Until Sunday they hadn’t scored a touchdown in the first quarter since the St. Louis game, and had been outscored 35-0 combined in the first quarter of the past three games.

The Jaguars desperately needed something good to happen early on Sunday, and they got it when Posluszny ripped the ball out of Johnson’s hands. The defense, which entered the game worst in the NFL against the run (161.8 yards per game allowed), held the Titans to just one first down and 46 total yards in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, the offense churned out 93 yards, nearly half of its final total of 214.

"We needed a positive feeling," Posluszny said.

They got one, and it led to an even bigger one after the game.

Rapid Reaction: Jacksonville Jaguars

November, 10, 2013
11/10/13
4:11
PM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 29-27 victory over the Tennessee Titans:

What it means: For the first time in 350 days, the Jaguars have a victory to celebrate after they upset the Titans at LP Field on Sunday. The victory snapped a 13-game losing streak dating back to a 24-19 victory over the Titans in Jacksonville on Nov. 25, 2012. There is one remaining winless team in the NFL: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who play the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

Stock watch: Nobody's stock is higher now than cornerback Will Blackmon's, who made the biggest play of the season when he ripped the ball away from Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and ran 21 yards for the game-clinching touchdown with 2:32 to play. Blackmon had come on a blitz on a third-and-9 play.

Turnovers: The Jaguars' defense had forced just 11 turnovers entering Sunday but forced four against the Titans. In addition to the game-sealing strip by Blackmon, linebacker Paul Posluszny forced the ball loose and recovered it on the game's first offensive snap to set up the Jaguars' first touchdown. Chris Johnson also fumbled a pitch. (It's credited to Jake Locker, though.) Rookie cornerback Dwayne Gratz also came up with the first interception of his career.

Red zone success: The Jaguars were last in the NFL in red zone production coming into the game, scoring touchdowns on just five of their 20 trips inside the 20. But they were a solid 2-for-3 on Sunday. Their first possession of the game started at the Titans' 19-yard line following a turnover, and they scored three plays later. Their second trip ended with a Josh Scobee field goal. The Jaguars drove 79 yards for a touchdown on their first possession of the second half.

What's next: The Jaguars play their first game at EverBank Field in nearly a month when they host Arizona next Sunday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It has been an ugly first half of the season for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

They’ve lost every game by double digits -- the average margin is 22 points -- and are riding a 13-game losing streak that dates back to a Nov. 25, 2012, when they beat Tennessee. They rank last in the NFL in total offense and rush defense, 31st in rush offense, and 27th in total defense.

They haven’t scored a touchdown at EverBank Field since the first quarter of the 2012 regular-season home finale.

Ugly, indeed.

There have been slivers of good work in parts of the team in the first eight games, but the overall body of work deserves an F.

In breaking that grade down, it's clear this midseason report card isn’t going to be pretty. In fact, it’s the kind of report card that gets you grounded for weeks:

Jaguars fantasy breakdown: Week 5

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
4:15
PM ET
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Looking for some help with your fantasy football lineup? Every Friday I'll give you my opinions on which Jacksonville Jaguars players to play and sit, as well as which of the opposing players might be a good play against the Jags. For more fantasy football advice, check out ESPN.com's fantasy football page.

Jaguars

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert: He has been sacked 10 times and has thrown five interceptions in his two starts. He is getting his top target back, but he’s got a rookie left tackle going up against Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who already has 5.0 sacks. Verdict: Sit him.

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew: This matchup should be a good chance for the Jaguars’ struggling run game (49.0 yards per game) to finally get going. The Rams give up 133.5 yards per game on the ground. But what kind of impact will the move of Luke Joeckel to left tackle and the insertion of Austin Pasztor at right tackle have? Verdict: If you’re willing to gamble, play Jones-Drew. If there’s a week in the first half of the season for him to get going it’s this one.

Wide receiver Justin Blackmon: He’s back after his four-game suspension and all reports are that he has looked great in practice. He’s gained eight pounds coach Gus Bradley said and his conditioning is great. He’s going to get a lot of targets, too. Verdict: Start him as your No. 2 or 3 receiver. He should have an immediate impact on the offense.

Wide receiver Cecil Shorts: He has been battling a groin injury this week but is expected to play. He’ll be the biggest beneficiary of Blackmon’s return because defenses will not be focused solely on stopping him. Verdict: The groin injury is a concern, so only play him if you need a flex.

Tight end Marcedes Lewis: He’s out (again).

Kicker Josh Scobee: He’s still perfect this season and last week kicked a 53-yarder. It’s hard to play him, though, because the offense is still struggling so much. Verdict: Sit him.

Defense/special teams: Blackmon’s return means Ace Sanders won’t have to play as many snaps at receiver so he’ll be fresher to handle punt returns. The Rams are the only team in the NFL running the ball worse than the Jaguars, but Sam Bradford is averaging more than 250 yards per game passing and he’s thrown for seven touchdowns in four games. The Jaguars have given up nine touchdown passes this season. Verdict: Sit them.

Rams

Quarterback Sam Bradford: He has to be excited about facing a secondary with two rookie safeties, especially with the matchup issues that tight end Jared Cook creates. Could be a big game for Bradford. Verdict: Start him.

Running back Daryl Richardson: He tweeted earlier this week that he wasn’t starting. Coach Jeff Fisher said that hadn’t been determined yet. It doesn’t really matter if Richardson, Isaiah Pead or Benny Cunningham starts. The Rams are averaging an NFL-worst 47.3 rushing yards per game. But the Jaguars are last in the NFL in rush defense (165.0 yards per game) and have given up a league-high nine runs of 20-plus yards. Verdict: With the uncertainty of which back will get the most work, it’s best to sit all of them.

Wide receiver Tavon Austin: He’s the Rams’ leading receiver (20 catches) but he’s averaging only 6.2 yards per catch. He should be more of a big-play receiver. Verdict: If you need a flex, play him. He’s just not putting up good enough numbers to warrant being a top three receiver.

Wide receiver Austin Pettis: He has 18 catches and is averaging 9.6 yards per catch -- better than Austin but still nothing spectacular. Verdict: See above.

Tight end Jared Cook: The Jaguars have had some issues with covering tight ends and he’s a matchup nightmare, especially for linebackers. He’s averaging 14.1 yards per game and has two touchdown receptions. He should have a solid game. Verdict: Start him.

Kicker Greg Zuerlein: He is 6-for-6 on field goal attempts. Always like a kicker who plays home games on turf. Verdict: Play him.

Defense/special teams: The Rams must be excited about the thought of Quinn going up against a rookie tackle and an offensive line that has given up 18 sacks in four games. St. Louis is a big banged up in the secondary but Jaguars quarterbacks have thrown seven interceptions in four games. Verdict: Play them.

Jaguars fantasy breakdown: Week 3

September, 20, 2013
9/20/13
2:30
PM ET
Looking for some help with your fantasy football lineup? Every Friday I'll give you my opinions on which Jacksonville Jaguars to play and sit, as well as which of the opposing players might be a good play against the Jags. For more fantasy football advice, check out ESPN.com's fantasy football page.

Jaguars

QB Chad Henne: Henne threw for 241 yards and a touchdown last week, but the bulk of that came in the fourth quarter when the game was decided. That’s irrelevant in terms of fantasy football, but it’s something to keep in mind whenever playing a Jaguars quarterback. They’ll likely be in the situation of needing to throw a lot after falling behind. Verdict: Playing Seattle’s defense is a bad matchup for any quarterback. Sit him.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: The swelling from the left ankle injury he suffered against Oakland kept him out of practice all week. Even if he’s cleared to play, just how effective can he be? Can he handle 20 carries? Expect more Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson and Justin Forsett even if Jones-Drew does play. Verdict: He’s too risky to start.

WR Cecil Shorts: He has been targeted 25 times in two games and has 11 catches for 133 yards. He is clearly the Jaguars’ top weapon in the passing game, but he’s going up against what is regarded as the league’s top secondary. The corners are big and physical, too. Verdict: It’s not a good matchup. Only play him if you need a No. 3 or 4 receiver in deeper leagues. Otherwise, sit him.

TE Marcedes Lewis: It looks like Lewis will be on the field for the first time this season and that’s good news for an offense desperate for playmakers. But will he be rusty? And how much of a difference will he really make. Verdict: Sit him for another week just to see how he does in his return.

K Josh Scobee: He has attempted just one field goal and the Jaguars attempted a two-point conversion after their only TD. Verdict: Until the offense shows some evidence of being able to consistently move the ball, Scobee needs to stay on the bench.

Defense/special teams: The Jaguars are last in the NFL in rushing defense. They're facing one of the league's top backs, who has touched the ball 50 times in two games. Still waiting for a big play in the return game. Verdict: Sit 'em.

Seahawks

QB Russell Wilson: Wilson has gotten off to slow starts in each of his first two games, but he is still completing 63.5 percent of his passes and has thrown for 462 yards. He has only tossed two TD passes, though. The Jaguars have given up the second-fewest passing yards in the NFL through the first two weeks, but part of that is because they’ve given the up the most yards rushing. Verdict: Don’t start him as your No. 1 quarterback, but he’s a viable option for your No. 2 if your league allows you to play two QBs.

RB Marshawn Lynch: Only three players have carried the ball more than Lynch (45 times). He has not yet busted off a big run, and he’s only averaging 3.1 yards per carry. The Jaguars are struggling to stop the run, though, having given up 347 yards in the first two games. Verdict: Definitely start him.

WR Doug Baldwin: Sidney Rice should be the Seahawks’ top receiver with Percy Harvin sidelined, but he has been battling knee problems for a while. Baldwin leads the team with eight catches, but seven came in the season opener. Verdict: You should have better options than Baldwin on your roster. Play him as a No. 3 receiver if you have to in deeper leagues.

WR Golden Tate: Tate is healthy and has five catches for 70 yards. How much will the Seahawks throw the ball, though? If they’re able to get a big lead and control the ball none of the receiver will get much work. Verdict: Same as Baldwin.

TE Zach Miller: He has five receptions in two games and is a reliable target, especially in the red zone. Verdict: He’s not a bad play if you missed out on the top 10 tight ends.

K Steven Hauschka: He’s a perfect 4-for-4 on field goal attempts, and he should get plenty of work. Verdict: Play him.

Defense/special teams: The Seahawks lead the NFL in total defense and passing defense, and they’re facing a Jaguars team that’s last in the NFL in total offense and scoring and is still missing its top receiver. Verdict: There isn’t a better defense to play this week.

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