Jacksonville Jaguars: Brad Meester

David GarrardGary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT/Getty Images
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This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in Jacksonville Jaguars history. On Monday we featured Morten Andersen’s missed field goal in the 1996 regular-season finale that sent the Jaguars to the playoffs. On Tuesday we featured Mark Brunell’s touchdown pass to Jimmy Smith to clinch the 1996 AFC divisional playoff game over the Broncos.

Score: Jaguars 31, Steelers 29
Date: Jan. 5, 2008 Site: Heinz Field

The Jaguars have won just one playoff game since their run to the 1999 AFC Championship Game, and it came thanks to a gutsy play call, a couple of good blocks and a holding penalty that wasn’t called.

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The Jaguars appeared headed for an easy victory over Pittsburgh in a 2007 AFC wild-card game after beginning the fourth quarter with an 18-point lead and the Steelers facing a fourth-and-12 at the Jacksonville 37-yard line. But Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes hooked up for a touchdown, and Pittsburgh’s comeback got jump-started.

The Steelers eventually took a 29-28 lead with a little more than six minutes to play. After the teams traded possessions, the Jaguars drove into Pittsburgh territory but faced a critical fourth-and-2 from the Steelers' 43 with 1:56 remaining.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter didn’t choose a pass play or a run by Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew. He called a quarterback draw out of the shotgun formation, putting the season on David Garrard’s feet.

Four players threw key blocks: Center Brad Meester sealed linebacker James Farrior on the inside, left guard Vince Manuwai drove defensive end Brett Keisel backward, right tackle Maurice Williams took down nose tackle Casey Hampton and tight end Marcedes Lewis turned safety Troy Polamalu outside.

That opened a huge hole for Garrard, who put a move on safety Tyrone Carter and ran by him at the 30 before Carter finally ran him down at the Pittsburgh 11-yard line. That play set up Josh Scobee’s 25-yard field goal with 37 seconds remaining, and defensive end Bobby McCray sacked Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that defensive tackle Derek Landri recovered with 20 seconds to play to give the Jaguars a 31-29 victory.

Except it shouldn’t have happened.

Officials missed a pretty blatant hold by left tackle Khalif Barnes on linebacker James Harrison. Barnes got his feet crossed as Harrison went outside and then back inside and grabbed Harrison’s jersey by his shoulders. By the time Barnes let go, Garrard was already past the first-down marker.

Steelers players and fans were irate about the noncall. Their complaints were eventually validated when the NFL’s head of officiating admitted the following spring that the crew working that game missed the holding call.

There was obviously nothing the NFL could do about the outcome. That remains the last time the Steelers lost a playoff game at home.

Former Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester still can't believe his football career is over.

Meester, who retired after the 2013 season, says it will most likely hit him late next month, writes Brent Woronoff of the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

"I think it will really start sinking in when training camp comes and obviously the games come," Meester said.

He'll have something to take is mind off of that: his burgeoning career as a motorcycle mechanic. Meester has been enrolled in the motorcycle technology program at WyoTech Daytona in Ormond Beach, Florida, since April. He'll finish at the end of the year and the plan is to move back to his native Iowa and open his own repair business.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran takes a shot at projecting the Jaguars' 53-man roster. He also writes about single-game tickets going on sale this week.

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco writes about rookie defensive end Chris Smith in his Monday Musings.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The upcoming NFL draft will be the 20th in Jacksonville Jaguars history, not counting the expansion draft.

To commemorate that milestone, I’m looking back at each draft and giving you the best and worst selections in each round. Monday is the second round and the first round will appear on Tuesday, April 15 -- appropriate since that’s the day taxes are due and first-rounders make the most money.

These rankings are based on what the player did with the Jaguars. If they failed to produce with the Jaguars but had success somewhere else -- whether they left as free agents, were cut and caught on somewhere else, or traded -- that’s a negative.

I’m expecting some disagreement, which is fine. Your feedback is welcomed (click the email link at the bottom), and I’m going to post some of the best comments (read: those without profanity) on April 16.

Here we go …

Round 2

Jones-Drew
Best pick

Maurice Jones-Drew showed up in Jacksonville after the Jaguars took him with the 60th overall pick in 2006 with a chip on his shoulder and used that to become one of the greatest players in franchise history.

He is second on the team’s all-time rushing list (8,071 yards), powered by a three-year stretch in which he ran for 4,321 yards. That included a franchise-record and NFL-leading 1,606 yards in 2011. Jones-Drew also holds Jaguars' records for rushing touchdowns (68) and total touchdowns (81).

Jones-Drew supplemented his play on the field with a huge smile and an enjoyment for the game that spilled over into his touchdown celebrations -- some of which drew criticism from opponents. But he also felt slighted at not being a first-round selection and he wore No. 32 as a reminder that every team passed on him before the Jaguars finally selected him with the 28th pick in the second round.

Honorable mention

DE Tony Brackens (1996) is the Jaguars’ all-time sack leader (55) and also holds the top two single-season sack performances: 12 in 1999 and 11 in 2001. He recorded at least one sack in eight consecutive games during the 2001 season. No other player in team history has done that in more than four games in a row.

C Brad Meester (2000) finished his career last December as the longest-tenured Jaguar (14 seasons) and holds franchise records for games played (209). games started (209). He had separate streaks in which he started 92 and 90 consecutive games, the two longest such streaks in team history.

Mathis
CB Rashean Mathis (2003) holds team records for interceptions (30), interceptions in a season (eight), and interceptions returned for a touchdown (three).

LB Daryl Smith (2004) is the Jaguars’ all-time tackles leader (1,089).

Worst pick

The Jaguars tried to beef up their pass rush in 2008 by selecting Derrick Harvey in the first round and Quentin Groves in the second. Groves recorded 2.5 sacks as a rookie, but then went four more years before getting another. Groves played two seasons in Jacksonville, two in Oakland, one in Arizona and last season in Cleveland. He has 8.5 sacks and 111 tackles in his six seasons, including 2.5 sacks and 30 tackles in his two seasons in Jacksonville.

Honorable mention

C Michael Cheever (1996) was on pace to be one of the league’s better offensive linemen after he made the All-Rookie team after the Jaguars took him with the 60th overall pick, but a back injury ended his career. Cheever had surgery to repair two bulging discs in his lower back in December 1997 and never played again.

CB Cordell Taylor (1998) played mainly on special teams as a rookie. He was cut and appeared in two games for Seattle in 1999.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars took the first step toward rebuilding the interior of their offensive line pretty quickly in free agency by reaching an agreement with former Denver Broncos guard Zane Beadles.

Beadles
The deal, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan, is worth $30 million over five years with $13 million guaranteed.

The offensive line was the Jaguars' top priority in free agency because of the retirement of center Brad Meester and the release of right guard Uche Nwaneri last week. The team obviously wanted an upgrade over Will Rackley, Mike Brewster, Jacques McClendon and Drew Nowak.

It's a good move by Jaguars general manager David Caldwell. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Beadles is a tough, durable player who has started 62 of a possible 64 games in the regular season since the Broncos selected him in the second round of the 2010 draft. The Broncos led the NFL in total offense and were 15th in rushing (117.1 yards per game) last season.

UPDATE: Jaguars general manager David Caldwell said Beadles was the team's primary offensive line target.

"He’s very intelligent, he’s very competitive and he’s very smart," Caldwell said. "We did a lot of work on him in Atlanta when he was coming out. He’s had a heck of a career to-date. I think he’s played in every game possible in his four years in Denver. He played in the Pro Bowl in 2012. He’s a guy with a proven track record. He’s still only 27 years old. He’s very passionate about football. I think he checks the box for everything we look for in a player and I think you guys know what that is in this culture.”

Beadles, who will play left guard, is a good fit for the Jaguars because like the Broncos they also use a zone-blocking scheme.

Interior offensive line is the Jaguars' biggest need after quarterback and pass-rusher. The group struggled early in the 2013 season with the transition to a zone-blocking scheme and the Jaguars eventually mixed back in some man-blocking schemes.

The strength of a team's running game comes from the center and two guards and those spots weren't very productive in 2013. The Jaguars finished 31st in the NFL in rushing (78.8 yards per game) and running back Maurice Jones-Drew's 3.4 per-carry average was the worst of his career. Meester was in his 14th season and not playing at the same level as he had in the past several seasons. Nwaneri played through torn cartilage in his knee in 2012 and dealt with the lingering effects from the injury in 2013 and Rackley battled a knee injury throughout the 2013 season.
The Jaguars didn't wait until Tuesday to make a splash with a signing. They signed former Seattle defensive end Red Bryant on Saturday.

NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal broke down that signing as well as several others that happened before the start of free agency. His take on the Jaguars' acquisition of Bryant:

"It's hard not to like this move. Bryant is a run-stopping specialist, but he should still have plenty left in the tank at age 30. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley knows what Bryant does well, and the deal was fair: Four years, $17 million."

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars-related content from around the Web in our Reading the Coverage feature:

Here's my take on the Bryant signing, which is the first step in beefing up one of the league's worst run defenses.

The Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the Jaguars need help at receiver.

The T-U's Hays Carlyon spent several days in Seattle before the Jaguars played the Seahawks in September and spoke with Bryant, who had some nice things to say about Bradley.

Carlyon also writes that former Jaguars center Brad Meester has dropped significant weight since he retired in December and is getting ready to go to school to become a motorcycle mechanic.

Here's the weekly mailbag.

Plays that shaped the season: No. 1

February, 14, 2014
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In this series, Michael DiRocco counts down the 10 plays that shaped the Jacksonville Jaguars’ season.

[+] EnlargeBrad Meester
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsJaguars center Brad Meester catches the ball against the Titans during the first quarter of their Week 16 game.
Play No. 1: Brad Meester's catch

Situation: Second-and-8 from the Tennessee 13-yard line.

Score: Tennessee leading 3-0.

Time: 5:14 remaining in the first quarter.

DiRocco’s take: The play -- called Pass 5 Weak Screen to Brad -- was put in earlier in the week and the Jaguars ran it successfully every day. Left guard Jacques McClendon moved to center and Drew Nowak, who was just activated from the practice squad that week, went in at left guard. Meester lined up to the right of tackle Austin Pasztor. He went about 3 yards down field, turned around, and caught the pass from Chad Henne, just like he had done all week. The rest of the play was an example of why offensive linemen don’t catch passes. Meester ran into the back of right guard Uche Nwaneri, tried to juke a defender, and cut inside instead of outside, where Pasztor was waiting to make a block. Had he done that, he may have scored. Instead, it was a 9-yard gain that gave the Jaguars a first-and-goal on the Tennessee 4-yard line. They scored a touchdown on the next play.

Season impact: The play was the highlight of the season and the fact it was called speaks more to the new atmosphere around the franchise. Not many offensive coordinators would have taken the time to draw it up and even fewer head coaches would have even considered it, but Jedd Fisch and Gus Bradley did as a way to say "thank you" to Meester for being a vital part of the Jaguars franchise for the last 14 seasons. There’s no better example of why the players love playing for Bradley.

Quote: "The thing that ran through my head was, 'Don't drop the ball.’ I knew I would catch a lot of flak if I got open one time in my life and I dropped the ball. That was the one thing I was focusing on is catching it." -- Meester
Each day this week I’ll provide an answer to a key question facing the Jaguars in the offseason.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It’s clear that quarterback and pass rush are the Jaguars’ most pressing needs for the 2014 season.

Marks
After that, though, the Jaguars’ priority isn’t as clear. Interior offensive line, outside linebacker, running back, and receiver are all jockeying for the No. 3 spot in general manager David Caldwell’s needs list. Those positions can’t all be addressed in the draft, so the team will look to fill those needs via free agency.

But don’t expect the Jaguars to be involved in a bidding war for big-name free agents. Caldwell said the team still has to fix the foundation before he’s willing to target the upper-echelon free agents. He’s more interested in signing quality starters and depth guys from the middle-tier of free agents.

"Considering where we are right now as an organization, as a team, we’ve got a lot of building to do," Caldwell said. "We’re not just one piece away where we can go get a high-priced player and then feel like we’re just … You’re never going to be one player away, but a lot of teams are really close and feel like, ‘If we just get this one guy at this one position that’s a glaring weakness we can go get them.’

"We did that in Atlanta in our time. We signed Dunta Robinson and traded for Tony Gonzalez and each year we added a high-priced guy but we didn’t add a lot of depth because we had a lot of depth and a good core of starters. Here we’ve got to get a good core of starters before we start to target some difference makers in free agency."

That means players like Alex Mack, Greg Hardy, Brian Orakpo and Michael Johnson aren’t likely to be on the Jaguars’ radar. They are simply going to be too expensive and the Jaguars could add two, or even three, quality players for the same amount of money.

Taking that approach worked for Caldwell last season. He signed defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks to a one-year deal and Marks turned in a career season and was rewarded with a new deal in December. The Jaguars also waited a few days after free agency began to start signing players, which is something the team will likely do again next month.

By waiting, the hope is a player’s price tag goes down to a more reasonable number or that a player that is cut to make room for a higher-priced free agent is then available.

The Jaguars will add several free agents next month, especially along the interior of the offensive line, which in my opinion is the biggest need after QB and pass-rusher. The Jaguars need to beef up both guard spots and find another center now that Brad Meester has retired.

They’ll try to address running back and linebacker as well.

But it’ll be through the draft that the Jaguars will make their splashiest additions.

"I firmly believe that you build it through the draft," Caldwell said. "That was our vision, that was our plan coming into this, and we’re going to stick to it."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars are committed to upgrading the interior of the offensive line, whether that's through free agency or the draft -- or possibly even both.

The biggest need is center since Brad Meester has retired after 14 seasons. The Jaguars could opt to enter the bidding war for free agent Alex Mack, sign a cheaper option (like Ryan Wendell, for example), or try out current players Mike Brewster and Jacques McClendon. Uche Nwaneri should return at right guard, but the team needs to improve at left guard.

If the Jaguars do address those spots in the draft, three potential targets are players that Scouts Inc.'s Kevin Weidl said caught his eye during film study over the past several weeks: USC center Marcus Martin, North Carolina center/guard Russell Bodine, and LSU guard Trai Turner. Weidel breaks each player down in the latest Who We're Watching post on ESPN's NFL Draft blog.

One thing that stood out from reading Weidl's breakdowns: All three players have a bit of a nasty attitude on the field, which is an often overlooked trait.

You can read Weidl's complete blog hereInsider.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars are going to spend the next 7 1/2 months trying to do something they haven't had to do in 14 years: Find a center.

Brad Meester was an ironman throughout his 14-year career with the Jaguars, starting and playing in a franchise-record 209 games. He was a sure a thing as you can have in football, which is why the Jaguars never invested much effort throughout his career to find another center.

[+] EnlargeJacksonville's Brad Meester
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackThe Jaguars may find a replacement for newly retired center Brad Meester on their current roster.
Since Meester was drafted in 2000, the Jaguars drafted only one other player with the intention of giving him a look at center: Will Rackley, who played guard and tackle at Lehigh. They signed nine other free agents, including undrafted free agent Mike Brewster, who was a center at Ohio State but has been a guard with the Jaguars.

There are 19 centers who are scheduled to be free agents this offseason, with the top of the class being Cleveland's Alex Mack. New England's Ryan Wendell and Denver's Dan Koppen are also big names that could be available. It'd be a bit surprising if the Jaguars went the pricey route and signed Mack, who made $3.832 million this season and will likely be asking for $4-plus million a year.

A cheaper alternative -- and one that seems the most likely right now -- would be to look on the roster to see if there's a replacement. The Jaguars have options. They could move Brewster, Rackley or guard Jacques McClendon to center. They also recently signed Matt Stankiewitch, a former Penn State standout who signed as an undrafted free agent with New England last summer, was waived in the final cuts of training camp, and spent the 2013 season out of football.

McClendon played in three games and started two others at guard this season, but he also played one snap at center when Meester moved outside and caught a pass in his final home game.

"Gus and I kind of talked about a little bit of a quick wish list," GM David Caldwell said. "I said obviously we can't fill all of our needs through free agency and through the draft but we can we fill our needs with with people that are here right now and who will anticipate filling that center role, right guard, role, or left guard role, or whatever it might be.

"I think we need to really sit down with our coaches and say, ‘Who can we fill this need with this year?' Let's use our resources, whether it's a draft pick or free agency, to go fill another need that's more of a pressing issue."

The more pressing issues are quarterback, pass-rusher, outside linebacker, and receiver. The Jaguars are unlikely to address the quarterback situation in free agency other than to re-sign Chad Henne.

Finding a center may be something the Jaguars haven't done in a while, but the solution may already be on the roster.
Each day for the next two weeks we'll review how each position group performed in 2013, and take an early look at 2014. Today we'll examine the offensive line. We did quarterbacks on Monday running backs on Tuesday, tight ends Wednesday, and wide receivers on Thursday. We will do the defense next week.

Offensive line

Breakdown of starts: C Brad Meester (16), G Uche Nwaneri (16), T Austin Pasztor (12), T Cameron Bradfield (11), G Will Rackley (11), T Luke Joeckel (5), T Eugene Monroe (4), G Mike Brewster (3), G Jacques McClendon (2).

Recap: The Jaguars finished 31st in rushing (78.8 yards per game) and gave up the second-most sacks in the league (50). All the blame for those poor stats doesn't fall on the offensive line, but a good bit does. Injuries played a large role because several players started the season banged up and three ended up finishing the season on IR.

Only two players who started the season opener were in the starting lineup for the season finale: Meester and Nwaneri.

The group really struggled in the first month adjusting to the new zone-blocking scheme and it wasn't until Monroe was traded that things started to get better. The timing was a bit unusual because Monroe is regarded as one of the better young tackles in the game and Joeckel lasted less than a half at left tackle because of a season-ending ankle injury.

Nwaneri and Rackley were banged up with knee issues early in the season but as they got healthier the middle of the line played better.

The biggest surprise, though, was the play of Pasztor. Bradfield had started 12 games at right tackle in 2012 so he was experienced enough to handle things at left tackle after Joeckel got injured. Pasztor had started just three games at left guard as a rookie in 2012 but he did a solid job at right tackle over the final 12 games of the season. He was promising enough that coach Gus Bradley and GM David Caldwell are willing to give him a further look at that spot to see if he can develop into the team's answer at right tackle.

Rackley missed the final four games because of a concussion. Brewster was supposed to be his replacement but he suffered a fractured ankle as well and that forced McClendon into the lineup.

Looking ahead to 2014

Players under contract: Nwaneri, Joeckel, Rackley, Brewster, McClendon, G Stephane Milhim, C Patrick Lewis, G Drew Nowak, T DeMarcus Love, C Matt Stankiewitch.

The skinny: The top priority is finding a center because Meester retired after 14 seasons. It may be someone already on the roster -- McClendon also can snap -- but it also may be someone the Jaguars sign in free agency (Cleveland's Alex Mack is regarded as the top center that could be a free agent).

Upgrading at left guard and making sure things are settled at right tackle are on the list as well. Pasztor may end up being the starter against but he has to show progress and prove he can handle the quicker rushers.

There are still questions about Joeckel. He looked good in his first game at left tackle (his natural position), but he was only on the field for less than a half before he got injured. He should be healthy in time for OTAs.

The Jaguars are likely going to add several free agents and draft picks in the interior. The run game has to improve and that starts with the center and guards.

Rapid Reaction: Jacksonville Jaguars

December, 29, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 30-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

What it means: The Jaguars finished 4-12, doubling their victory total from last season and likely securing the No. 3 draft pick. The Houston Texans (2-14) and Washington Redskins (3-13) have the top two picks, but the Redskins traded their pick to St. Louis, so the Rams will pick in their spot.

Stock watch: Two young players stood out. Safety Johnathan Cyprien has steadily improved this season and broke up three passes to go along with six tackles. The team’s second-round draft pick out of Florida International also did a much better job of patrolling the seam and keeping Colts tight ends Coby Fleener and Weslye Saunders from doing a lot of damage. Fleener caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting between the teams but had just one catch for 25 yards on Sunday. The Jaguars have been limited at receiver since Justin Blackmon's suspension and Cecil Shorts' groin injury ended his season. However, Kerry Taylor has stepped up over the past three weeks. He caught a team-high eight passes for 75 yards and a touchdown against the Colts and has 16 receptions for 162 yards and a touchdown over the past three games. Not bad for a guy who didn’t join the team until Nov. 4.

Farewell? This might have been the final game in a Jaguars uniform for running back Maurice Jones-Drew, and it wasn’t exactly a memorable one. He had averaged 100.9 yards per game rushing against the Colts in his career, but had just 39 yards on 13 carries Sunday. He also fumbled on the game’s third play a turnover the Colts turned into an early 7-0 lead. That was Jones-Drew’s first fumble lost in more than two years (against Baltimore on Oct. 24, 2011). It definitely was the final game for center Brad Meester, who is retiring after 14 seasons in the NFL.

What’s next: General manager David Caldwell will begin the process of evaluating the roster and making decisions on which players are worth re-signing, specifically quarterback Chad Henne and Jones-Drew. Both are unrestricted free agents.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars were short-handed because of injuries against Tennessee last Sunday, but there still were some solid performances in the 20-16 loss.

Some of them came from young, unproven players such as receiver Kerry Taylor and J.T. Thomas, both of whom earned a spot on this week's list of the Jaguars' top 10 playmakers.

[+] EnlargeBrad Meester
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsJaguars center Brad Meester catches the ball against the Titans during the first quarter of their Week 16 game.
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. C Brad Meester (NR): There’s no question he tops the list after making the only reception of his career: a 9-yard catch-and-run on a screen pass that nearly went for a touchdown. It was a great call by offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch in the final home game of Meester’s 14-year career.

2. TE Marcedes Lewis (2): He caught a TD pass for the fourth game in a row and finished with four receptions for 50 yards. He has become a bigger part of the passing offense the last month and should have been more involved earlier in the season.

3. QB Chad Henne (NR): He went 24-for-34 for 237 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He’s playing as well as he can considering the weapons he has. The interception came with less than a minute remaining in the game when he was trying to make a play deep in his own territory.

4. WR Kerry Taylor (9): Taylor, who was targeted a team-high seven times, has really stepped up in the absence of Cecil Shorts (IR). He caught four passes for 45 yards against the Titans and has eight catches in the last two games.

5. LB Paul Posluszny (7): I know the defense gave up 182 yards rushing, but that was mainly due to the injuries and inexperience along the defensive line. Posluszny had a team-high 13 tackles, including 10 solo tackles, and had half of a sack. He missed only one snap while he was getting stitches in his chin.

6. DE Andre Branch (10): He had another sack against the Titans, giving him five in the past six games. The staff has got him playing with a consistent effort and Branch is having the kind of success people expect out of a second-round draft pick.

7. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (NR): He played through a hamstring strain that kept him off the practice field all week and still put up 69 yards of total offense on 17 touches (4.1 yards per touch).

8. S Johnathan Cyprien (NR): He didn’t practice last week because of a thigh injury but played every snap on defense and made nine tackles.

9. LB J.T. Thomas (NR): He made the first start of his career because of an injury to Geno Hayes and responded with six tackles. He has played mainly special teams and only gotten snaps on defense in the last six games.

10. CB Alan Ball (NR): He made a nice play on an interception that led to a third-quarter field goal that gave the Jaguars a 16-6 lead. He would have been higher on the list had he not gotten penalized for unnecessary roughness to give the Titans a first down at the 1 and not gotten beat by Nate Washington on the 30-yard touchdown.

RTC: Same problems hurt Jaguars

December, 23, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Put aside all the good feelings around the attempted touchdown pass to center Brad Meester and it was a disappointing loss for the Jaguars on Sunday at EverBank Field.

The Jaguars were opportunistic on offense in the first half, but managed just three points and five first downs in the second half. The defense played well in the first half, but wore down because of injuries and allowed the Titans to rush for 114 yards. The result was a second consecutive 1-7 record at home, which the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran writes needs to be fixed before hopes of improvement can seem realistic.

"This is the second week we’ve had the opportunity to give ourselves some distance from a team and we weren’t able to get anything going,” right guard Uche Nwaneri said. "We can do it, because we’ve seen ourselves do it numerous times over the last half of the season. But this is disappointing for us."

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars content from around the Web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:

O'Halloran reviews how well the Jaguars accomplished the four keys to the game in his Four Downs Analysis.

The T-U's Vito Stellino writes that running back Maurice Jones-Drew isn't thinking about his contract situation and whether or not he'll be back with the Jaguars in 2014. He also writes that Sunday's game turned south for the Jaguars when the Titans turned to their running game.

T-U columnist Gene Frenette gives the Jaguars average grades in his report card.

The T-U's Hays Carlyon breaks down Meester's almost-touchdown catch, which was a play the Jaguars put in to honor Meester in his final home game before he retires. Frenette writes that a victory would have been the perfect way to honor Meester.

Here's my story on Meester's pass play, which includes a lot of good-natured ribbing by his teammates.

Here's video of the play, courtesy of CBSSports.com.

Here's the T-U's Monday Morning Quarterback, in which fans sound off about Sunday's game.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 16

December, 23, 2013
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A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars20-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans:

Lewis
Keeping Lewis involved: Marcedes Lewis caught a touchdown pass in his fourth consecutive game and finished with four catches for 50 yards. He has been much more involved in the offense over the past month, which has really helped the Jaguars overcome an injured and now-missing Cecil Shorts. He should have been more involved earlier in the season but he needed time to adjust to the system after missing so much time because of a calf injury. His past month also highlights an interesting decision the Jaguars have heading into 2014: Do they keep Lewis, who is scheduled to make $6.7 million in base salary next season and $6.65 million in 2015? He has proved he is still a productive player and probably could catch 50 passes in Jedd Fisch’s offense in a full season, but that’s a lot of money to devote to a player who will be 30 next year and isn’t part of the team’s long-term plans.

Meester’s TD: It was a feel-good move for offensive coordinator Fisch and head coach Gus Bradley to try to find a way to get center Brad Meester, who is retiring after 14 seasons, a touchdown. Although Meester didn’t score, the play call will pay off in an even bigger way: It further cemented the players’ belief, respect and admiration for Bradley. That he’d be willing to do that for Meester has won him the locker room for years. How could a player not want to play hard for a coach like that? Very few coaches would be willing to do that. I asked one former Jaguars player after the game whether former coach Tom Coughlin would have done that. His response: “Hell no. He wouldn’t have even considered it.”

QB situation: Chad Henne played a solid game -- 24-of-34, 237 yards, two TDs, one interception -- and the way he has played the past two months also presents the Jaguars an interesting possibility. His contract expires at the end of the season but he is definitely worth re-signing, especially if the Jaguars aren’t going to draft a quarterback in the first few rounds. Henne has shown he can function within the offense and not put the team in bad situations. If the Jaguars decide to go defense with the first several picks and take a quarterback late, Henne is good enough to be a caretaker for another year.

Farewell MoJo? Sunday could have been the final time Jaguars fans see running back Maurice Jones-Drew wearing teal and black. His contract expires after Sunday’s season finale at Indianapolis. He said in the locker room after the game that he’d like to be back, but it will depend on whether he and the Jaguars can reach an agreement on both a salary and length of contract that would allow him to possibly finish his career in Jacksonville. "If it is [my last game as a Jaguar], it is, and if it isn’t, then I had a great run," said Jones-Drew, who has 8,032 career rushing yards. "This is just part of this game. We all know that. It’s the business aspect of it that nobody wants to talk about. It is the pink elephant in the room. Sometimes you have to walk away and sometimes you can stay. Hopefully I can be like Meester and be back. We have a couple months to figure that out after next week. We’ll see how it goes."
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When the call came in from the sideline, Jaguars center Brad Meester got nervous.

But not because he was going to get a chance to score a touchdown in his final game at EverBank Field in front of his family.

He was worried he would embarrass himself in front of 60,559 people.

"The thing that ran through my head was, 'Don't drop the ball,'" Meester said following the Jaguars 20-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans. "I knew I would catch a lot of flak if I got open one time in my life and I dropped the ball. That was the one thing I was focusing on is catching it."

You can understand his uneasiness. Offensive linemen don’t get to catch passes or score touchdowns very often. Tackles sometimes do when they line up as extra tight ends. But centers never do.

Until Sunday, when offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and head coach Gus Bradley decided to give Meester a shot as a way to say “thank you” for being a vital part of the Jaguars franchise for the past 14 seasons. They put the play -- called Pass 5 Weak Screen to Brad -- in the game plan and practiced it all week.

On second-and-8 from the Tennessee 13-yard line late in the first quarter, they called it.

[+] EnlargeJacksonville's Brad Meester
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackCenter Brad Meester made his first NFL catch in the final home game of his 14-year Jaguars' career.
Left guard Jacques McClendon moved to center and Drew Nowak, who was just activated from the practice squad this week, went in at left guard. Meester lined up to the right of tackle Austin Pasztor.

He went about 3 yards down field, turned around, and caught the pass from Chad Henne, just like he had done all week. Every time they practiced the play he caught it. Not a single drop. Even if he had been tackled immediately he would have been a hero to his linemen teammates.

"Have you seen his hands?" Pasztor said. "His fingers are all bent every which way. It is remarkable that he can hold onto the ball."

The rest of the play was an example of why offensive linemen don’t catch passes. Meester ran into the back of right guard Uche Nwaneri, tried to juke a defender, and cut inside instead of outside, where Pasztor was waiting to make a block. Had he done that, he may have scored.

"He’s a lineman. You think he’s going to see that?" Nwaneri said. "He’s just like, ‘RUN! RUN!' That’s how I would have been."

Meester admitted he maybe sort of panicked.

"I couldn't figure out what to do," he said. "Am I going outside? Am I going inside? Is he moving? I stuck there for a while and finally went inside, and there were a couple of guys waiting for me."

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew said he probably would have cut outside.

"Yeah it was [free outside] but his speed and my speed are a little different," he said. "I think he’s running 7s not 4s."

Jones-Drew, though, is partly to blame. At no time this past week did he give Meester any tips on reading blocks. It’s not like that’s something an offensive lineman is supposed to know.

"If you ask Drew [Nowak] he would say he played running back so he’d probably tell you he does know how to read blocks," Pasztor said. "I think the majority of us probably don’t."

Meester eventually was tackled after a 9-yard gain, giving the Jaguars a first-and-goal from the 4-yard line. Henne hit Marcedes Lewis on the next play for a touchdown.

Meester wasn’t bummed about not getting to score. He said it’s a play he’ll always remember, not only because it was a chance to live out every offensive lineman’s dream but because it was a sign of how the coaching staff and franchise feels about him. He’ll also never forget the crowd after the play, either.

"It also meant a lot when after the catch they started cheering, ‘Meester.’" He said. "That was pretty cool. I never had anything like that happen in my life, except maybe at the house."

Had he scored, though, it would have been pandemonium, Jones-Drew said.

"The whole team was ready to get a penalty so it was kind of good that he didn’t score because I think everyone was going to run on the field if he got in," Jones-Drew said. "The bench probably would have emptied."

The catch, as it no doubt will go down as in Meester’s household, was part of a bigger tribute to the 14-year veteran, who announced earlier this week that this will be his final season. He was the only Jaguars player introduced before the game and the team held an on-field ceremony after the game in which he and his family were presented with four framed No. 63 jerseys.

That was a fitting tribute to a player who owns the franchise record for most games played and started (208) and the two longest streaks of consecutive starts (92 and 89). Meester was grateful for the pregame and postgame honors and for Bradley and Fisch giving him a chance to live every offensive lineman’s dream.

"I didn't break down and cry," Meester said. "I did get emotional. It was an emotional time. It really started to get me when I went out for pregame warm-up. I could hear people yelling at me and I could see some signs out there. That was awesome. I never had a sign for myself and there were several.

"There was even a Fat Head out there, which my kids have outside and are excited about."

Probably more than had their dad scored a touchdown.

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