By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)
The Jaguars will have major decisions to make in the offseason. Which players to keep, which players to release and who should remain as part of its coaching staff.
But the most pressing issue that this team has - beside whether or not to re-sign Maurice Jones-Drew and who to draft depending on where the team drafts in May - is what to do with Justin Blackmon. The pace this team has been on since the bye week, which coincides with the suspension Blackmon received by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy for the third time, does not help Blackmon’s cause, but we should not draw any conclusions just yet. The Jaguars are winning - and have won all their games without No. 14 on the field. Other receives and tight ends have taken up the slack for him in his absence.
While Blackmon’s situation is not on the same level as a Jeremy Mincey in that team rules were violated, the fact Mincey was given another chance and not cut by the Jaguars tells you head coach Gus Bradley puts a lot of stock in his players getting second and in Blackmon’s case, a third chance.
Even with the more production on offense, this team still needs a star receiver opposite Cecil Shorts. The offense looks better now, but it would look even better. Who knows, maybe Blackmon playing now would mean the Jaguars could have won their last eight games. It could have meant this team would have beaten Oakland earlier this year.
The truth is - and we all know this - the NFL is not built anymore on just one superstar. Teams need two running backs and two great receivers and two great tackles to move ahead of the pack. The Jaguars are winning with half their quotient at the receiver slot. If the Jaguars wipe their hands of him, more than likely someone like New England or Chicago or Houston will claim him and he will instantaneously wind up in the Pro Bowl - because that is what happens to former Jaguars.
Is it worth the risk? That question must be answered by Bradley and Jaguars general manager David Caldwell. But in the mean time, while this team keeps getting better, the decision this team has to make continues to draw closer. But the Jaguars - a team with a lot of upside right now, are in a better place to handle the ramifications one way or the other.
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