Jacksonville Jaguars: Antonio Gates

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars24-6 loss to the San Diego Chargers:

What it means: The Jaguars have not exactly been playing well all season, but they’ve been particularly ineffective in their three home games. How bad? The six points were a season high in a home game, and they’ve been outscored 89-11 in three games at EverBank Field. The Jaguars haven’t scored a touchdown at home since 9:34 remained in the first quarter of a Week 16 loss to New England last season.

Stock watch: Jacksonville’s defense couldn’t get off the field. The Chargers went with a dink-and-dunk approach and methodically marched down the field all day. The first four scoring drives all lasted at least 10 plays and were at least 79 yards. Three of the four took at least 6:08. Philip Rivers started the game 14-for-14, and the Chargers converted their first six third-down attempts before finally failing. Even when the defense made plays, it ended up hurting itself. Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, wiping out a third-and-33 and giving the Chargers a first down. That drive eventually ended with a touchdown and a 14-0 Chargers lead.

Replay issues: The Jaguars were burned once because they couldn’t get a replay and a second time when a call wasn’t overturned that probably should have been. It appeared that Keenan Allen was touched down by Alan Ball on a sliding catch, but he got up and ran for an additional 20 yards. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley failed to call a timeout in time to challenge the play. Officials did review a play in which Antonio Gates appeared to fumble inside the 5-yard line but did not overturn the call. San Diego kicked a field goal on the next play.

What’s next: The Jaguars play host to the San Francisco 49ers in London next Sunday.

Jags-Chargers: Five things to watch

October, 19, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Here are five things to watch in Sunday’s Jacksonville Jaguars-San Diego Chargers game at EverBank Field:

Tight ends: Marcedes Lewis makes his return for the Jaguars after missing all but two plays this season. He’ll make an impact in the passing game -- he has caught at least 52 passes in two of the past three seasons -- but also in the running game, as well. He’s one of the league’s top blocking tight ends and helps set the edge and allow Maurice Jones-Drew to get outside. Antonio Gates is third among NFL tight ends with 36 receptions and he is tied for the team lead. The Jaguars have had trouble with tight ends all season -- they’ve combined to catch 33 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns -- and Gates is the most talented one they’ve faced to date.

Blackmon’s streak: Receiver Justin Blackmon has had back-to-back 100-yard receiving games and is trying to become just the second player in Jaguars history to record 100-plus yards receiving in three consecutive games. Jimmy Smith did it six times. Blackmon has been on fire since returning from a four-game suspension, catching 19 passes for 326 yards, numbers which lead all receivers in the past two weeks.

Gratz’s return: It appears cornerback Dwayne Gratz will make his return to the lineup after missing the past five games with a high ankle sprain. The Jaguars’ third-round draft pick out of Connecticut had locked down a starting job before getting injured. Coach Gus Bradley said he likely will spell Will Blackmon at times if he is indeed able to play. If he does get on the field, it would give the Jaguars three rookies in the secondary. Safeties Johnathan Cyprien and Josh Evans were second- and sixth-round picks, respectively.

MoJo’s streak: Maurice Jones-Drew has failed to rush for 100 yards in nine consecutive games dating back to his 177-yard performance against Indianapolis on Sept. 23, 2012. The longest he has ever gone between 100-yard performances is 12 games, a streak that lasted from the seventh game of the 2008 season to the third game of the 2009 season, when he ran for 119 yards against Houston.

Jet lag: The Chargers played a Monday night game against Indianapolis, flew to Jacksonville on Friday, and Sunday’s game will kickoff at what would be 10 a.m. West Coast time. How will the Chargers handle the short week and cross-country travel? It should be evident pretty early if they’re sluggish.

Jaguars fantasy breakdown: Week 7

October, 18, 2013
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.


QB Chad Henne: One of Henne’s biggest issues has been lack of consistency. Can he follow up a 303-yard performance against Denver with another solid day against San Diego? The ingredients are in place because he gets tight end Marcedes Lewis back to go along with receiver Justin Blackmon. Cecil Shorts’ status is in doubt so that hurts, but Shorts left last week’s game early. Henne has been the better QB this season. Verdict: Start him if you play two QBs.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: It looks like Jones-Drew is starting to get into a groove. The offensive line is blocking better, too. But he still hasn’t rushed for more than 71 yards in a game. Verdict: Bench him.

WR Justin Blackmon: His 19 receptions and 326 yards are the most by any receiver in the past two weeks. He is the key to the Jaguars offense. He has rested all week because of a slight hamstring and groin pull, so he could be ready to go Sunday. He’ll be targeted at least 10 times. Verdict: Start him.

WR Cecil Shorts: The Jaguars’ leading receiver (31 catches, 411 yards) is a game-day decision because of an injury to the SC joint near his right shoulder. Even if he plays there’s a question of how effective he can be because it’s a very painful injury. Verdict: Don’t risk it. Put him on the bench.

TE Marcedes Lewis: Lewis’ calf has healed and he’s ready to go, which should make a big difference in the Jaguars running game because of his ability to block on the edge. The team will monitor his snaps to ease him back into the lineup and avoid him re-aggravating the injury. Verdict: If you can pick him up off the waiver wire do so, but I’d wait another week before putting him in the lineup.

K Josh Scobee: He had made 29 consecutive field goals in October. With the offense playing better he should have more opportunities. Verdict: He’s as good a play as any kicker this week.

Defense/special teams: Punt returner Ace Sanders is out with a concussion. The defense frustrated Peyton Manning better than any other team so far this season. Antonio Gates is having a big year and the Jaguars have had trouble with tight ends. Verdict: Sit them.


QB Philip Rivers: He has really taken to Mike McCoy’s West Coast-style offense and is third in the NFL in passing yards (1,847), second in completion percentage (72.6), and tied for second with 14 touchdown passes. He is also being helped by another big-time season from Antonio Gates and the emergence of rookie Keenan Allen. Verdict: Start him

RB Ryan Mathews: He also is experiencing a resurgence under McCoy. He leads San Diego with 336 yards rushing, but he has yet to rush for a touchdown. He’s losing touches to Danny Woodhead, too. Verdict: If you don’t have a better option as a flex, play him. Otherwise, sit him.

RB Danny Woodhead: He’s tied for the team lead with 36 catches and leads the team with 73 touches on offense. He’ll get a lot of touches but he’s only averaging 68 yards of total offense per game. He has scoured three TDs. Verdict: Not a bad option for a flex player or a No. 3 running back.

WR Keenan Allen: The rookie from California is coming off back-to-back games in which he has 100-plus receiving yards and one touchdown. He’s averaging a team-best 14.4 yards per catch among players with double-digit catches. Verdict: He’s a nice option as your No. 3 receiver.

WR Vincent Brown: He is Rivers’ top target among wide receivers (24 catches) but has only one touchdown catch. Verdict: He’s worth a gamble as a flex player.

WR Eddie Royal: He leads the Chargers with five touchdown catches, which matches his season total from 2012. But he hasn’t practiced all week because of a toe injury and is listed as questionable. Verdict: Sit him.

TE Antonio Gates: He is tied for the team lead with 36 catches, which is only two behind the NFL leader among tight ends (Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron has 38). The Jaguars have had trouble with tight ends all season and Gates should have a big day. Verdict: You’re crazy if you don’t start him

K Nick Novak: He has made 13 of 15 field goal attempts, including a 6-for-6 mark from 40 yards or longer. Only four kickers have made more field goals. Verdict: Play him.

Defense/special teams: The Chargers have forced only three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) and are giving up nearly 400 yards per game, but they did a good job against Andrew Luck last week. Verdict: They’re as good a play as any defense.

Get to know the San Diego Chargers

October, 15, 2013
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The San Diego Chargers have a difficult week ahead.

They beat Indianapolis on Monday night, then travel cross-country to play in Jacksonville on Sunday in what will be a 10 a.m. kickoff on the West Coast. Not exactly an ideal bit of scheduling, even if the Jaguars are one of the NFL’s three winless teams.

San Diego is coming off a 19-9 victory over visiting Indianapolis. Philip Rivers threw for 237 yards and one touchdown, Ryan Mathews ran for 102 yards and the defense limited Andrew Luck and the Colts to just 267 yards of total offense.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on CBS.

Here’s a look at the Chargers:

Record: 3-3.

Last week: Beat Indianapolis 19-9.

Coach: Mike McCoy, first season (3-2).

Offensive coordinator: Ken Whisenhunt.

Defensive coordinator: John Pagano.

Series record: Chargers lead 3-3.


QB Philip Rivers: He’s enjoying a bit of a comeback after throwing for 35 interceptions the past two seasons. He has 14 touchdown passes and is third in the NFL in passing yards per game (307.8) and second in passer rating (108.7).

RB Danny Woodhead: The free agent from New England leads the team with 73 touches on offense (37 carries, 36 receptions) and has scored three touchdowns. He is averaging only 5.6 yards per touch but is tied for the team lead in catches with Antonio Gates.

WR Keenan Allen: The rookie second-round draft pick has had back-to-back 100-yard games and has established himself as a player who’s tough enough to go over the middle, make a tough catch and take a pounding. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Allen has 23 catches for 332 yards and two touchdowns.


S Eric Weddle: The Chargers’ 2012 MVP (as voted by teammates) leads the team with 42 tackles and has knocked down six passes. He is as dependable as it gets, having only missed four games in his seven seasons in the NFL. He hasn’t missed a game since 2009.

LB Manti Te'o: Te’o suffered a sprained foot in an Aug. 7 preseason game and didn’t get back on the field until the Chargers’ Sept. 29 game against Dallas. He has started the past two games and has 13 tackles in three games.

CB Derek Cox: He was Chargers GM Tom Telesco’s most expensive free-agent signing ($20 million, four-year contract) but has been a disappointment so far. He has 25 tackles, five pass breakups and one interception, but he has been given up too many big plays, including a 44-yard touchdown to Raiders receiver Rod Streater in one-on-one coverage.


The Chargers’ 147 yards rushing against Indianapolis was the team’s most since Week 2 of the 2012 season. Mathews’ 102 yards marked the first time he had rushed for 100 or more yards since Dec. 11, 2011. ... The Chargers have started five different offensive line combinations in six games. ... After battling injuries the past several seasons, including plantar fasciitis, Gates is healthy and is second in the NFL in receiving yards and third in receptions among tight ends. He has 36 catches for 466 yards.