By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
About 15 months ago I remember watching a rookie named Denard Robinson standing in the middle of the Jaguars practice facilities with coaches before practice had even started, listening to his mentors show him how to hold onto the football. The rookie from Michigan had been drafted to play running back, not quarterback where he has exceled at in college. I also remember wondering how this wafer-thin player was going to make the transition to a new position, and if he would be able to do anything to help this Jaguars franchise.
After a subpar rookie season, Robinson not only proved he could help these Jaguars, he could also start in the NFL and may be the solution to a woeful running game so far this season. He ran for a career-high 127 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, a WIN for these Jaguars. In a game where our rookie quarterback, Blake Bortles looked less than stellar, Robinson and a strong defense looked sharp – sharp enough to bail the team out for a 24-6 win.
The star of the show, however, was Robinson, who had the first 100-yard rushing game by a Jaguars running back since last season. The win for the home team was the first win since December of last year,
It also means there is a definitive starter behind Bortles and a rushing game that was aided by strong blocking up front along the offensive line.
In the words of Jackie Gleason – “How Sweet It Is.”
In the win on Sunday, the Jaguars not only found a running game, but the defensive side of the ball showed how strong it was, causing turnovers and sacking Brian Hoyer three more times, to give this team 22 on the season. The play of both Paul Posluszny (11 tackles) and Telvin Smith, a rookie linebacker who continues to impress, shows this is not a front line defense and nothing else.
And while we did not see the best of Bortles on offense with his arm (three interceptions) he did have his moments with both his arm and his feet.
Yes, this is a team that is coming together. I would go as far to say this should be a Jaguars’ team that is riding a three-game winning streak, but close is only good in horseshoes and hand grenades.
But we are getting better.
Now, with Miami on the horizon on Sunday at EverBank Field, can the Jaguars do it again? I sure hope so. And something tells me Denard Robinson feels the same.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
Imagine what could have been. Imagine what would have happened had we heard this from NFL Commissioner, Roger Goddell.
“WITH THE THIRD PICK IN THE 2-14 NFL DRAFT, THE JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS SELECT … JOHNNY MANZIEL.”
I only shudder to think what might have happened. The off-field turbulence, the issues with his jet-setting lifestyle and the way he was careless in his behavior – strutting around, flashing money signs and claiming to be the big deal he thought or maybe still thinks he is.
Taking a look at the way things worked out and how the Jaguars did their due diligence on all the possibilities of drafting quarterbacks, the team – and the fans - could not ask for anything more. Bortles is everything Cleveland wanted in a quarterback, the one who could be Otto Graham and Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar.
When was the last time you think any team in the NFL was jealous of who the Jaguars trotted out on the field behind center? The only one I can think of right now is Mark Brunell.
Trust me when I say that Bortles will be better than Mark Brunell.
Cleveland has had its share of awful blunders behind center – Tim Couch, Brandon Weeden, Brady Quinn and now a quarterback riding the bench while Brian Hoyer works his magic. And according to sources, whether he sees the field in the near future has a lot to do with the success of the team over the next 12 weeks and whether Hoyer can sign an extension with the franchise, which only makes the drafting of Manziel even tougher.
While the Jaguars are dealing with a losing season and issues with the offensive line and issues with the running game, the one thing this franchise does not have to deal with are questions behind center. Blake Bortles has exceeded all those expectations so far, and from what we can tell, is the best quarterback to come out of the NFL Draft since Andrew Luck. Those are pretty high honors. And to think he is the antithesis of the quarterback that Gus Bradley once said was the most NFL ready. It seems even our coach can make a mistake like that. However he and general manager Dave Caldwell rebounded well to make the right decision for the team’s future.
No matter how things are right now, Blake Bortles gives us the best chance to be great in the future. For Johnny Manziel, there is still a jury out their waiting to see what happens – when and if he gets on the playing field.
The Zane Beadles Parade Foundation will host multiple events October 24-25 to celebrate its expansion to Jacksonville, Fla. The foundation, founded by Jaguars left guard Zane Beadles, is an organization that supports the journey of young people going through life-changing medical conditions. Beadles was signed by the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent this offseason after spending his first four seasons in the NFL with the Denver Broncos.
Festivities will commence on Friday, October 24, as Zane Beadles hosts a happy hour from 6-8 p.m. at The Shim Sham Room (333 1st Street N, Jacksonville Beach, 32250). Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy drinks and appetizers as they meet Beadles, the Jaguars starting left guard. Tickets are $25 and those interested in attending (21 or older) can purchase tickets at www.zanesparade.org.
The following day (Saturday, October 25), the Zane Beadles Parade Foundation will host the first Jacksonville Cakes for Cancer from 11-1 p.m. at SUITE (4880 Big Island Drive, Suite 1, Jacksonville, FL 32246), located in the St. Johns Town Center. Guests will enjoy all-you-can-eat pancakes provided by First Watch, a pancake-eating contest against the Jaguars offensive linemen, face painting, balloon twisting, photo opportunities with the players and a special sunglass surprise. Guests are encouraged to bring toys, coloring books, puzzles, books, playing cards and video games to be donated to pediatric cancer patients at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Tickets are $25 per adult, $12 per child 12 years old and younger. A family four-pack is available for $75and includes two adult tickets and two child tickets. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Wolfson Children’s Hospital and can be purchased at www.zanesparade.org.
By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
The one thing the Jaguars could rely on until recently was a strong running game. However, not since 2011, has Jacksonville had a solid ground attack. That was when Maurice Jones-Drew won the NFL rushing title with a weak offensive line and Blaine Gabbert behind center.
Now it looks like the team might be in the same predicament. With four running backs on the roster what does the team do? Toby Gerhart, the free agent asked to replace Jones-Drew and solidify the attack, has been hampered since the preseason (sound familiar) and when the committee of Gerhart, Denard Robinson, Storm Johnson and Jordan Todman have been called on, the production has been bleak at best.
Some of that is blamed on them, some on an offensive line that is new and learning to play together, and some is based on the fact the team does better then Blake Bortles launches it down the field or uses the sideline on scream passes.
The Jaguars offense showed some life, if not a smidge of offense, last weekend. But the running game is nonexistent right now and will not get better if Gus Bradley and Jedd Fisch do not pick one back and make him the workhorse of this offense.
James Stewart, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew have given the team quality effort in the back with players like Stacy Mack, and yes, Greg Jones all proved they could be effective in between the tackles – even on bad teams and with porous offensive lines. So if they can do it, why can’t the Jaguars do it now?
If I were to spin the wheel and make a choice, I think Storm Johnson is the best chance this team has moving forward and sorry to say, the Toby Gerhart experiment may be a bust. It’s hard to say that if the guy you sign in free agency gets hurt and cannot show what he can do on the field, but the NFL is a “What Have You Done For Me Lately” league and right now the team needs a spark from someone and I do not mean the 38 yards Bortles ran for on Sunday.
With 12 games remaining on the schedule and the franchise stuck in neutral, it is time to look at what might be out there in free agency in 2015 and of course, the NFL Draft. But because of holes on the offensive line and the need for a young pass rusher and possibly a linebacker or two, taking a running back that high (possibly within the first four picks) is not a reasonable solution. Todd Gurley will be a top 10 choice and the Jaguars mat have to trade down to select the running back from Georgia or look to Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin or Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska or even Jeremy Langford of Michigan State.
Antone Smith of the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo’s CJ Spiller, DeMarco Murray of Dallas and Ahmad Bradshaw could all draw some interest with this team. There is plenty of money to spend. Murray may be out of a home should the Cowboys sign Adrian Peterson. Smith would be foolish to leave Atlanta, but he looks the part and would fit the Jaguars’ system. But for now, the team must stick with the legs that got them to the dance.
One can only hope the team finds one back who can dance their way through the defensive line and into the end zone. If that happens the nervousness of this being a one-dimensional team will call. If not, it will only get worse.
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed rookie tight end Michael Flacco to the practice squad and placed rookie tight end Marcel Jensen on the practice squad injured list with a knee injury.
Flacco, 6-5, 251, spent the preseason with San Diego and was waived on final cuts after signing as a rookie free agent. He spent one season at the University of New Haven where he led the team with nine receiving touchdowns and 591 receiving yards on 30 receptions. He was named third-team All-America by Beyond Sports Network and earned D2Football.com honorable mention honors.
Flacco, a native of Audobon, New Jersey, was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2009 Major League First-Year Player Draft and played four seasons of minor league baseball with the Orioles and the Boston Red Sox organizations. He is the younger brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
Flacco will wear jersey number 49. In addition, rookie cornerback Aaron Colvin has switched his jersey number to 22.