Jacksonville Jaguars: Julius Thomas

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 6

October, 14, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars' 35-19 loss to Denver Broncos:

Who's the starter? Quarterback Chad Henne completed 27 of 42 passes for 303 yards. He did throw two interceptions, but both came after deflections at the line of scrimmage. Coach Gus Bradley, however, was non-committal about whether Henne would remain the starter even after Blaine Gabbert (strained left hamstring) is cleared to return. “He did some very good things, and that's what he's supposed to do,” Bradley said. “He's supposed to come in and lead our team. He's supposed to come in and make plays. He's supposed to come in and [get] the playmakers the ball, and he did some of those things.” Henne still made some significant mistakes. He missed a wide-open Clay Harbor on the first offensive play. He also could have run for a first down on fourth-and-3 from the Denver 11-yard line but threw behind Justin Blackmon in the end zone. Still, Henne has outplayed Gabbert, who has missed three starts because of injuries, all season.

[+] EnlargeJacksonville's Chad Henne
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesChad Henne passed for 303 yards against Denver, but also had some significant mistakes.
Umbrella coverage: The Jaguars' game plan against Peyton Manning was pretty simple: Play two-deep safeties to eliminate big plays down the field and try to flood the secondary with defenders. It worked pretty well. Manning threw for a season-low 295 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted for only the second time this season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Jaguars sent four or fewer rushers on 41 of Manning's 42 dropbacks. They blitzed one time and Manning beat them with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas. Jaguars defenders limited Broncos receivers to season-low 116 yards after the catch and forced Manning to throw to the running backs a season-high 14 times. The result was a season-low in points, total yards, and passing yards.

Brown contributes: Lost in Justin Blackmon's 14-catch performance was the way receiver Mike Brown filled in for Cecil Shorts, who suffered a sprained right shoulder on the game's third offensive play and did not return. Brown caught four passes for 49 yards, including a 19-yard pass on third-and-20 that put the Jaguars in position to attempt and convert on fourth down. Sunday was Brown's first game since he suffered a fractured bone in his back in the season opener. Brown, a converted quarterback from Liberty, will have to produce like he did against the Broncos if Shorts, the team's leading receiver (31 catches), is out for an extended period.

Dead zone: The Jaguars' struggles inside the red zone continue. They scored only one TD in three trips. It was a mix of play-calling and bad decisions that doomed the latter two trips. Henne was penalized for delay of game and then offensive coordinator Jed Fisch called a sweep to the short side of the field. Those plays moved the ball from the 4 to the 12. Henne could have run for a first down on their last trip but instead threw behind Blackmon.

Jaguars fantasy breakdown: Week 6

October, 11, 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: Henne might be a decent play this week. The Jaguars are going to have to throw a lot to keep up with Peyton Manning so it wouldn't be a surprise if Henne throws for 270-plus yards and a touchdown or two. Verdict: Play him if you're in a league that allows you to play two quarterbacks.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew: He got a season-high 17 carries last week and offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said he'd like Jones-Drew to have even more. The Jaguars are going to try and run the ball to keep Manning off the field, but the team is still only averaging 2.7 yards per rush. Once the Jaguars fall behind by more than a couple touchdowns, Jones-Drew won't have much of an impact. Verdict: Sit him.

WR Justin Blackmon: Pretty good debut for him last week: five catches, 136 yards, one touchdown. There's no doubt he's the Jaguars' top receiver and he is in the best shape of his career. The Jaguars are going to have to make plays in the passing game to keep up. Verdict: Start him.

WR Cecil Shorts: He played through a groin injury last Sunday and has battled it all week but will play. He will benefit from Blackmon's presence because it'll open things up for him. Again, the Jaguars will have to throw a lot to keep up. Verdict: He's a solid No. 3 receiver option.

TE Marcedes Lewis: He's not playing. He probably shouldn't be on your roster by now, either.

K Josh Scobee: The lighter air is great for kickers and Scobee is allegedly going to try an 80-yard field goal in pregame warm-ups. How many field goals will he attempt in the game, though? If the Jaguars are down big he won't get many shots. Verdict: Sit him

Defense/special teams: Peyton Manning, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas vs. two rookie safeties. Verdict: Put them on the bench.


QB Peyton Manning: He has thrown 20 touchdown passes and only one interception and hasn't thrown for less than 307 yards in any game this season. Verdict: Do I really have to tell you?

RB Knowshon Moreno: He has enjoyed a resurgence in Denver, rushing for 331 yards (third in the AFC) and four touchdowns. He does share time with Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball, but he's the No. 1 back and should get a lot of work Sunday. Verdict: Start him.

WR Demaryius Thomas: He is sixth in the NFL with 450 receiving yards fifth in receptions (34). Remember the two rookie safeties? This is the guy who will burn them. Verdict: Start him.

WR Wes Welker: He has already caught seven touchdown passes. The most he ever caught in one season with New England was nine in 2011. He and Manning have quickly developed a bond, especially in the red zone. Verdict: If you have a Denver receive on your roster, start him.

WR Eric Decker: Nobody has benefitted more from Manning's arrival than Decker. He caught a career-high 85 passes last season and is on pace for 93 this season. Verdict: See above.

TE Julius Thomas: Thomas has already caught 27 passes, but the more interesting stat is he's averaging a touchdown catch every 4.5 receptions. Considering the trouble the Jaguars have had covering tight ends, Thomas should put up good numbers. Verdict: Start him.

K Matt Prater: Prater is 9-for-9 in field goal attempts this season and has made three field goals of 50-plus yards. He'll get a lot of work Sunday. Verdict: Start him.

Defense/special teams: The Broncos gave up 522 yards of total offense and 506 yards passing to Dallas last week, but the Cowboys' offense is a little more efficient than the Jaguars' offense. Plus, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was the Jaguars' head coach from 2003-2011, and don't think he doesn't want to dominate the team that fired him. The Jaguars have already thrown nine interceptions, allowed 20 sacks, and scored just five touchdowns this season. Verdict: A no-brainer start.