Jacksonville Jaguars: Coby Fleener

Five things to watch: Jaguars-Colts

December, 28, 2013
Here are five things to watch in Sunday’s Jacksonville Jaguars-Indianapolis Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.:

MoJo’s finale? Could this be the final game in a Jaguars uniform for running back Maurice Jones-Drew? His contract expires next week and there’s no certainty that he’s going to re-sign with the Jaguars. He’s likely going to test the free-agency market but has said he wants to be back in Jacksonville. However, he also said he has a number in mind regarding salary and contract length, which may not be in tune with what the Jaguars are willing to offer. Jones-Drew could leave an impressive final impression, though, because he has averaged 100.9 yards per game against the Colts in his career.

And Chad Henne, too? Henne also will be an unrestricted free agent next week and he’s a player the Jaguars will likely want to re-sign. The question will be whether Henne wants to go somewhere else to compete for a starting job or whether he’d be willing to return to Jacksonville to be a mentor to whichever young quarterback the team drafts in May. Henne has played his best football over the past month, throwing eight touchdown passes in the four games, and has shown he’s capable of running the offense and not putting the team in bad situations. He’d be a valuable player to have around in 2014, especially if the young quarterback isn’t ready to start at the beginning of the season.

Stopping the run: Injuries along the defensive line have really hurt the Jaguars against the run the past two weeks. Buffalo and Tennessee rushed for 198 and 182 yards, respectively, in victories in Jacksonville. The Jaguars have had to rely on inexperienced players like Abry Jones and Jordan Miller and this week added two defensive tackles that will see time against the Colts: Kevin Love, who was with the team in training camp until the final cuts, and Drake Nevis. The Colts are averaging 110.9 yards per game rushing.

Tight end trouble: Tight ends have given the Jaguars trouble all season and Indy’s Coby Fleener caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in the previous meeting, which the Colts won 37-3. That was rookie safety Johnathan Cyprien’s fourth game and he’s a much better player now. He has been bothered by a thigh injury and has practiced on a limited basis but is expected to play. This will be a good gauge on how much he – as well as fellow rookie safety Josh Evans and second-year safety Winston Guy – has improved.

Handling Mathis: Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is second in the NFL with 17.5 sacks (St. Louis’ Robert Quinn has 18.0). He’s not a good matchup under normal circumstances but the Jaguars’ situation at offensive tackle is uncertain. Starting left tackle Cameron Bradfield did not practice until Friday because of a high ankle sprain and is questionable for Sunday. If he can’t go, the Jaguars will move right tackle Austin Pasztor to left tackle and start Sam Young, who has played mainly on special teams this season, at right tackle. Expect the Colts to target Young all afternoon if he’s in the game.

Jaguars fantasy breakdown: Week 17

December, 27, 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: He has thrown eight touchdown passes in the last four weeks despite not exactly having an elite group of receivers. He is played his best football right now. Verdict: He's a viable option for a No. 2 QB if you can play two.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: He was limited all week but will play against the Colts, a team he has traditionally had a lot of success against. He may not have a full workload because of his hamstring but he still should get 15 touches. Verdict: Sit him.

TE Marcedes Lewis: He has caught a touchdown pass in four straight games and has been a bigger part of the passing offense. He's pretty much the best weapon Henne has. Verdict: Start him.

K Josh Scobee: Scobee has had a great year and he wraps it up by kicking in a dome. The only problem is the Jaguars have passed up some sure field goals in the past few games to go for it on fourth down. Verdict: He's as good an option as any kicker.

Defense/special teams: The defense will be down four starters and the defensive line rotation will likely include two players who joined the team earlier this week. The return game has been solid but still hasn't produced a score. The Colts are going to try to pound the ball like Tennessee and Buffalo the past two weeks. Verdict: Sit them.


QB Andrew Luck: He's not whipping it around the field like he did as a rookie, but he has been more efficient and his interceptions are down. Don't expect big numbers because the Colts are going to have success running the ball. Verdict: Sit him.

RB Donald Brown: He has emerged as the Colts' top back and is averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He should have success Sunday because of the Jaguars' limitations along the defensive front. Verdict: Start him.

WR T.Y. Hilton: He has stepped neatly into the No. 1 receiver role after Reggie Wayne went down and needs just 72 yards to reach 1,000. Verdict: Start him as your No. 2 or No. 3 receiver.

TE Coby Fleener: Fleener burned the Jaguars for five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown in the previous meeting. The Jaguars haven't figured out how to stop tight ends since then. Verdict: Start him.

K Adam Vinatieri: Always go with dome kickers, especially ones that have set career highs in field goals made (32) and rank 15th in field goal accuracy in NFL history (82.9 percent). Verdict: Start him.

Defense/special teams: The Colts have given up a total of 10 points in the last two games. Plus, the Jaguars' situation at offensive tackle is unclear because of injuries and the team may have to play Sam Young, who has played mainly on special teams this season. Robert Mathis (16.5 sacks) should be drooling. Verdict: Start them.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

October, 24, 2013
Got questions about the Jaguars? I’ll try to answer a representative selection of them every Thursday. Submit your questions each Thursday via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 4

September, 30, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 37-3 loss to Indianapolis:

[+] EnlargeBlaine Gabbert
Phil Sears/USA TODAY SportsThe Jaguars are sticking by starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert -- at least for the time being.
Staying with Gabbert: Blaine Gabbert has thrown five interceptions and has led the offense to just three points in two home games this season, but Jaguars coach Gus Bradley is sticking with him as the team’s starting quarterback. Gabbert has a 5-21 record as a starter and has shown little progress since he was selected 10th overall in the 2011 draft, but Bradley wants to see more of Gabbert in the team’s current system before making any judgments about his future with the team. “I know you say, ‘Gus, we’ve waited to see,’ but I’ve got to see it,” Bradley said. He said some of the issues on Sunday may have been receivers not finishing routes, plus all three interceptions came after receivers bobbled passes.

No help: With Marcedes Lewis’ return lasting just the first series before he had to leave the game after reinjuring his calf, the Jaguars were again without any complementary playmakers to receiver Cecil Shorts. It’s one of the offense’s main problems because teams are able to roll coverages toward Shorts and force Gabbert to beat them with the other receivers -- two of whom were signed from the practice squad on Saturday. It didn’t work, obviously. Gabbert completed just five passes to other wide receivers (four to Ace Sanders, one to Jeremy Ebert). Justin Blackmon returns this week from a four-game suspension, so that should help, but Lewis’ absence is still significant.

TE troubles: The Jaguars again struggled to cover the tight end. Coby Fleener caught five passes for 77 yards and one touchdown, a 31-yarder in which he was wide open. Depending on the defense called, responsibility for the tight end falls to a linebacker, safety or nickel back. Regardless of which player had responsibility, there have been mistakes that resulted in big plays. As good as he is against the run, linebacker Paul Posluszny sometimes struggles in coverage, and the Jaguars started a pair of rookies at safety against the Colts. Through four games, tight ends have caught 20 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns. The Seahawks' and Colts' tight ends combined to catch 14 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns.

Discipline problem: It’s not the fact that the Jaguars committed nine penalties for 65 yards that’s troubling. It’s the kinds of penalties that are the issue. Eight of the nine were discipline penalties: four defensive offside/encroachment, one illegal substitution, one false start, one roughing the passer, and one unsportsmanlike conduct. Those are mental mistakes that are avoidable. Jason Babin committed three, including lining up offside twice. The Jaguars aren’t close to being talented enough to be able to overcome mistakes like that, especially against a quarterback like Andrew Luck. “We cannot have that as part of our game,” Bradley said. “Obviously our players aren’t getting the message, and that’s on me.”
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It wasn't exactly a triumphant return for Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert on Sunday.

He had three passes bounce off receivers' hands and get intercepted, was sacked four times and only threw for 179 yards in a 37-3 loss to Indianapolis. He has thrown five interceptions in two games this season and is 5-21 as a starter in his career, but Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley is sticking with Gabbert as his starter, writes Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union.

"I'm standing strong with Blaine," Bradley said.

Bradley said he needs to see Gabbert play more in order to make a judgment on Gabbert's future with the team. All he has seen so far have been two lopsided losses in which the offense has managed just one field goal.

Here are some other pieces of Jaguars content around the web in our daily Reading the Coverage segment:

Tight end Marcedes Lewis' return from a calf injury lasted just three plays. He re-aggravated the injury that kept him out of the first three games of the season, writes the T-U's Ryan O'Halloran.

O'Halloran recaps how well the Jaguars accomplished the four keys to the game. It wasn't pretty.

Yet another tight end burned the Jaguars on defense, writes the T-U's Hays Carlyon. This time it was Coby Fleener, who caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown -- a 31-yarder in which he was wide open.

The T-U's Don Coble writes that the Colts' top priority on defense was stopping Maurice Jones-Drew and forcing Gabbert to throw. Mission accomplished: They held Jones-Drew to just 23 yards on 13 carries.

WJXT TV-4 sports director Sam Kouvaris and Cole Pepper talk about Bradley having to adjust his expectations, Gabbert's play, and whether the Jaguars should make a roster move this week in their podcast. Pepper also provides more takeaways from the game.

Here's a roundup of items from this blog: the Jaguars can't afford for receiver Cecil Shorts to struggle; it has been four weeks but the team still hasn't made any progress in the ground game.