Thursday, February 6, 2014
Plays that shaped the season: No. 7
By Michael DiRocco
In this series, Michael DiRocco counts down the 10 plays that shaped the Jacksonville Jaguars' season.
Play No. 7: Safety
Situation: Fourth-and-7 from the Kansas City 25-yard line.
Time: 12:32 remaining in the first quarter.
DiRocco's take: Linebacker J.T. Thomas, who had only been with the team for seven days, came free up the middle and blocked Dustin Colquitt's punt. The ball bounced backward with such force that it rolled through the end zone before any player could get on top of it. The play gave the Jaguars a 2-0 lead in the season opener and remained the only points scored by a non-kicker at EverBank Field until Danny Noble's touchdown catch against Arizona on Nov. 17.
Season impact: Thomas was part of a string of signings that began in late August and were designed to beef up the Jaguars’ special teams. The bulk of a team’s special teams players come from the bottom third of the roster, and GM Dave Caldwell mined the waiver wire continuously in the hopes of upgrading the punt and kickoff coverage units. The Jaguars’ special teams were awful during training camp and most of the preseason, but Caldwell’s signing of players like Thomas, Will Blackmon, Clay Harbor and Winston Guy gradually helped them improve, and by the end of the season the units were respectable. It did place a bit of a burden on special teams coordinator Mike Mallory and special teams assistants Ron Middleton and Matt Smiley, because they had to constantly deal with an influx of new players, but the coaches and players responded.
Quote: "To get the blocked punt right away in the first half, that was a good sign, and I think our coverage became better." -- Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley