After the first two weeks of the preseason, it looked like the Jacksonville Jaguars were really trying win while they could — when their opponents didn’t put very much stock in the final outcome on the scoreboard.
Back in 2008, the Detroit Lions were the only team to finish the preseason unbeaten (4-0). But in the regular season, they became the first team to finish winless at 0-16 in NFL history.
So if you’re searching for a silver lining in the Jaguars’ 48-17 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night, you’re in luck, as the team no longer appears to be following the same model as the team from the Motor City that went winless in 2008.
In addition, there was another bright spot, and his name’s Justin Blackmon.
Despite being the last guy to sign his rookie contract from the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft (after being arrested for aggravated DUI in June), Blackmon’s already clearly become the No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville.
And unlike just about everyone else on offense, he’s not struggling to run routes, holding out or having to deal with an injury. He’s been a consistent weapon thus far in preseason and hands down the most reliable receiver.
Following the loss to Baltimore, Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey praised Blackmon on his performance.
“I thought he played well again,” Mularkey said, via the Florida Times-Union. ”He made the catches. We need more guys doing what he’s doing. When the ball is in the vicinity, we’ve got to make catches. He’s doing that. We need more than one guy to do what they did. When the ball is tightly covered, we need to make the plays. We didn’t do that, and they did.”
For the second straight week, he hauled in four receptions, this time for 72 yards against the Ravens.
In his preseason debut in Week 2, he picked up 48 yards on four grabs and a score for the Jaguars, combining for eight receptions for 120 yards with a touchdown.
That’s not too shabby for a guy that had just signed his contract and didn’t have much time to learn the system and develop chemistry with quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
After taking steps forward in back-to-back wins over New York and New Orleans, Gabbert backslid against Baltimore, completing 11 of 21 passes for 117 yards.
However, his early chemistry with Blackmon is something fans can hold their hat on heading into September.
As long as he stays healthy and out of trouble, get used to watching Blackmon make defenders miss, rack up big numbers in the YAC column and catch passes right and left from Gabbert this year.
Verse of This Piece: “My son, keep your father’s commands, and don’t forget your mother’s teaching. Keep their words in mind forever as though you had them tied around your neck.”—Proverbs 6:20-21
Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He also writes for RantPolitical.com, where he reports on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyzes important issues in the liberty movement. Follow @_MichaelGartman, @RantPolitical and @GridironGrit on Twitter!