The New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars are both geared up for what looks to be a lopsided matchup on Sunday, but there are four players on the Jaguars offense worth watching on Sunday in case this game becomes a trap game. I doubt it happens, but it’s still worth taking a close look at some key players on the Jaguars who have had good seasons thus far.
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1. LT Eugene Monroe
The steady play from Eugene Monroe on the left side of the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line is something the New England Patriots should be worried about, because it doesn’t seem like Chandler Jones is at his best health-wise. He hasn’t played well since injuring his ankle against the Indianapolis Colts and hasn’t recorded a sack since the bye week. Last week against the San Francisco 49ers, Jones was almost completely negated in the game.
Monroe is clearly the Jags best offensive lineman, and you can make a case for him being one of the best ten tackles in the league this year. I think he’s just outside that range, but that doesn’t change the fact that Monroe is having a very good year and is solid as a run blocker and pass protector. That’s something Pats fans need to be aware of and watch for closely.
2. WR Cecil Shorts
It wasn’t too long ago when the wide receiver position was viewed as a huge weakness for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but that’s no longer the case due to the breakout of Cecil Shorts and the big rookie year from Justin Blackmon. Bill Belichick has heaped some huge praise on Shorts, who has blossomed out of nowhere to become one of the league’s premier deep threats with his elite speed. Belichick loves Shorts as a player and referred to him as one of the best receivers the Pats will be facing all year.
The numbers support that claim, as Shorts has caught 925 passing yards and seven touchdowns this season. Moreover, he has clearly been the most valuable player on the Jaguars offense with a WPA just over two and an EPA of 35.4.
3. WR Justin Blackmon
The high-profile rookie first-rounder out of Oklahoma State has made a splash in the league early on, as Blackmon currently leads the team with 51 receptions that have gone for an average of about 14 yards per catch. In total, Blackmon has 707 receiving yards to go with three TD catches. Blackmon has the second highest WPA and EPA totals of any Jags offensive player, but the last man on my list of four is close behind him.
4. TE Marcedes Lewis
Although he isn’t having the incredible year he produced two seasons ago, Marcedes Lewis is back to being a solid tight end in this league after a letdown season in 2011 that I am simply referring to as a “hiatus” for him. Lewis is back to his best as a possession receiver and red zone target for the Jaguars with four touchdown catches on the year and an average of ten yards per reception on 41 total receptions. Lewis has been the most consistent receiver on the team, because he has hauled in 67.2% of everything thrown at him. He actually averages barely more yard per target than Blackmon (6.7 to 6.6), and a legitimate case can be made for him being a more valuable piece to the team this season than the rookie WR.
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