Each day this week I’ll take a look at a stat that will play a key role for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014. It could be something the team must improve or something the team did well that must continue. It will go beyond just the basic stats and provide a more in-depth look at the team.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jimmy Smith spoiled the Jacksonville Jaguars.
When the former All-Pro receiver wore teal and black, surpassing 1,000 yards receiving was pretty much a given. He did it nine times in his 11 seasons with the team, including a streak of seven consecutive seasons (1996-2002).
In his final season with the Jaguars, Smith caught 70 passes for 1,023 yards. That was 2005, and a Jaguars player hasn’t surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark since. Cecil Shorts came close in 2012, catching 55 passes for 979 yards, but nobody else has gotten within 100 yards of Shorts in the last eight seasons.
It’s a dubious streak and one the Jaguars share with the Oakland Raiders. Neither franchise has produced a 1,000-yard receiver since 2005. Every other NFL team has had at least one player with at least 1,000 yards receiving over that span.
Shorts obviously has the best chance to break that streak for the Jaguars, but his injury history and the fact the Jaguars have more potential passing-game weapons than they’ve had at any point during the streak may make it tough.
Shorts has missed 11 games because of injuries in his three seasons. He missed six games with a hamstring injury as a rookie in 2011 and sat out two games in 2012 because of a concussion. He played through a painful shoulder injury and missed the final three games of the 2013 season because of a sports hernia.
Shorts is entering the final year of his contract. He and the team have had initial contract discussions, but a 1,000-yard season in which he stays healthy would certainly give him additional bargaining power.
But he might not see as much action as he has. He’s still the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver, but Ace Sanders is coming off a rookie season in which he caught 51 passes and could be featured more. Plus, the team drafted Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in the second round, and while it’s hard for rookie receivers to make huge impacts, it’s natural to assume they will take some targets away from Shorts.
There’s also tight end Marcedes Lewis, who was featured more in the passing game late last season after he returned from a lingering calf injury. If he is that much of a factor in the passing game all season he could be a 50-catch player.
The wild card in the passing game is running back Denard Robinson, who dropped just one pass in nine OTAs and a three-day minicamp -- a startling reversal of his performance last offseason thanks to recovery from nerve damage in his hand. He gives the Jaguars a dangerous open-field runner who also could line up at receiver in certain formations.
Is having a 1,000-yard receiver a must for success? Not really. The Jaguars made the playoffs in 2007 by spreading the ball around. Five players caught between 37 and 45 passes. Reggie Williams topped the group in receiving yards with 629.
It would be nice to snap the streak, though.