JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars had a miserable first half of the season, which made the task of picking the team's top 10 playmakers each week difficult.
Medium logoBut I persevered and came up with a list each week, although I admit there were a couple of weeks where it was so tough I snuck in Jaxson DeVille at the 10 spot. The funny thing is, I got no complaints -- although I didn't get any thanks from the Jaguars' mascot, either.
Now that the midpoint of the season is here, it's time to go back, tabulate the results and come up with the top 10 Jaguars playmakers of the first eight games. That was significantly easier. All I did was assign points to each spot on the list -- the No. 1 playmaker each week got 10 points, the No. 2 got nine, the No. 3 got eight, etc. -- and came up with a total for each player. The player with the most points was the No. 1 playmaker of the first half.
Remember, this isn't a list of MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who are making the biggest difference each week.
Here's the list of the team's biggest playmakers in the first half of the season (point total in parenthesis):
1. LB Paul Posluszny (46): He has been without question the Jaguars' best defensive player this season, and you can argue their best player overall (which is why he's sitting atop this list). He leads the team with 80 tackles and has made two of the biggest defensive plays of the season, including an interception return for a touchdown against Denver.
2. QB Chad Henne (45): He had clearly out-played Blaine Gabbert and has a pretty solid hold on the starting job. The biggest thing he's done is cut down on the turnovers. Gabbert threw seven interceptions in three games, three of which were returned for touchdowns. The passing offense is more efficient, although he's still struggling in the red zone.
3. WR Cecil Shorts (44): The Jaguars' leading receiver (46 catches, 565 yards) is on pace to record his first 1,000-yard season, a feat that hasn't been accomplished by Jaguars player since Jimmy Smith in 2005. Shorts now has to handle the pressure of being the team's No. 1 receiver with Justin Blackmon done.
4. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (41): He has come on after a slow start and had his best all-around game against San Francisco. He got more than 20 touches in that game and that's a workload he's going to have to duplicate pretty much every game in the second half for the offense to be balanced. Jones-Drew also is the only player to have scored more than one touchdown.
T5. P Bryan Anger (34): He's averaging 46.8 yards per punt and has a net average of 41.3, numbers comparable to his rookie season when he set NFL rookie and franchise records for gross and net punting average (47.8 and 40.8). He hasn't been as good at pinning opponents inside the 10-yard line but is still having a good season.
T5. WR Justin Blackmon (34): He was the team's best offensive player in the four games in which he played, catching 29 passes for 415 yards and one touchdown.
6. K Josh Scobee (30): He has made all 10 of his field goal attempts, including kicks from 50 and 53 yards, and leads the team with 36 points.
7. WR Mike Brown (26): Brown is a bit of a surprise on the list, but he has done a nice job in his transition from college quarterback to receiver. He missed four games with a fractured vertebra in his back but has caught 12 passes in the last three games and had a 120-yard performance against San Diego. He'll be one of the players who must step up in the second half to help replace Blackmon.
8. S Johnathan Cyprien (23): The rookie second-round pick has struggled lately but had been solid through the first month of the season. He has forced a team-high three fumbles and is the team's third-leading tackler (47) but has suddenly started missing too many tackles and is getting out of position in coverage. He still should develop into a good player but right now appears to be hitting the cliched rookie wall.
9. DT Sen'Derrick Marks (15): He has been the team's best defensive lineman and has 17 tackles, 2.0 sacks, three pass breakups, four tackles for loss, and six QB pressures. The last number is second only to defensive end Jason Babin (nine). He has played the fourth-most snaps on defense and the most by far of any defensive lineman.
10. WR/PR Ace Sanders (13): He hasn't been as involved in the passing game the last four games and missed one of those games because of a concussion, but Sanders was solid in the first four games. Still, he has caught 16 passes for 182 yards. He'll get more work in the second half with Blackmon gone but will probably make his greatest impact as a punt returner. He had one punt return for a TD called back because of a questionable penalty.