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Stats Aside; Jaguars Have Weapons

Posted Oct 17, 2013

The San Diego Chargers are preparing hard for a Jacksonville Jaguars offense that has been explosive the past two weeks.

There are times where stats can be misleading in the NFL.

That’s the case for the Jacksonville Jaguars offense.

For the year they rank 32nd in total offense (270.2 ypg), 25th in passing (209.7 ypg), 32nd in rushing (60.5 ypg) and 32nd in points (11.7).  However, with the recent addition of the dynamic Justin Blackmon, who will be playing in his third game after missing the first four due to suspension, the Jags are playing better than ever.  Throw in weapons like Maurice Jones-Drew and the powerful arm of Chad Henne, you have a dangerous team desperate for their first win of the season.  The past two weeks, the Jaguars are playing their best ball of the year, posting their two highest totals for yards with 363 yards vs. the St. Louis Rams and 362 against the Denver Broncos.

“They are very explosive,” said Defensive Coordinator John Pagano.  “They have Blackmon back now.  You see what they do with him on film.  He was targeted 20 times last week, having 14 catches for 190 yards. (He’s made) a big impact on that offense.  And Jones-Drew is still one of the premiere running backs in the National Football League. He’s hard to take down.  It’s a group effort on having to tackle him number one.  And then Henne has been playing at a high-level these past few games.  He’s throwing the ball all around.  With the opportunity of them getting Marcedes (Lewis) back, that gives them a big target at the tight end.  The thing you see is they play hard, they play with effort and they get after people.  Their offensive line you can see how impressive they are in the things that they do, so it’s always a big challenge, especially going down there to Jacksonville to play on the road.”

The name at the top of that list is Blackmon. Since returning from his suspension, his 19 receptions for 326 receiving yards are the best in the NFL over that span. Last week vs. the Broncos, Blackmon caught a career-high 14 receptions, topped 100 receiving yards for the second consecutive game and averaged 13.6 yards per catch.

“He’s a very explosive player,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy. “The last couple of games have been big for him. I believe he was targeted 20 times against Denver last week. It showed you what they think about him, his talent and the type of player he is. He is very explosive, so we have to make sure we know where he is on every snap.”

After going up against him every day last year in practice as a member of the Jags, Derek Cox knows first-hand the immense talent Blackmon possesses.

“He’s a talented young man,” he said. “He has good abilities, good size and catches the ball well when it’s in the area.  He has great hands and his ability to make plays is very noticeable.”

The guy throwing him the ball is talented as well. Against the Broncos, Henne completed 27 of 42 passes (64.3%) for 303 yards. He has started three games for the Jaguars in 2013 and has had seven completions of 18-plus yards.  His best asset may be his cannon for an arm, and he certainly has the  Chargers’ attention.

“Point blank, he’s a good quarterback with a very strong arm,” said Cox.  “He can make all the throws and knows the game.  He’s very capable so we have to be prepared for him and be ready to play ball all 60 minutes.”

According to McCoy, the team needs to prevent Henne from getting in a groove.

“Offensively, Chad Henne is a veteran that has played a lot of football in this league. They have some skilled players; receivers, running backs and tight ends have big play capabilities and it’s a matter of us doing a good job of keeping everything in front of us. We can’t let Chad get too comfortable, because he is a good quarterback that will pick you apart if you just let him sit back there. We have to do a good job as a whole 11 of making him work for everything he gets.”

On the ground Jones-Drew has toted the rock 95 times for 2.9 yards and two touchdowns.  Although he’s off to a slow start for his standards, the team isn’t sleeping on one of the most dynamic backs in the league from the moment he was drafted.

“It’s going to take 11 guys tackling him,” said Corey Liuget. “That guy can run the ball. One guy is not going to tackle him. If he gets to our secondary, you definitely have to take his legs out from under him and get low, because he can power up, drop his shoulder and get a few extra yards.”

Overall, with a ton of talent on the Jacksonville side of the ball, it’s no surprise that the Chargers are stunned the Jaguars are winless on the season.. 

“I definitely am surprised that they haven’t won a game yet,” said Liuget.  “Watching the tape they are a well put together team and have the pieces.  They definitely have some athletes there that can make plays.  I know they are looking for that edge, and when they find it, they can roll and win some games.  So we have to be prepared to be our very best.”

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