It has been a frustrating start to an NFL career for Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but he finally got a chance to show why he was worth a top-10 pick on Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Blackmon had a career game, catching seven passes for 236 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown reception. His 236 receiving yards were good enough for the third most in Jaguars history and have gone a long way to erasing his, at times, frustrating start to his professional career.
The slow start to Blackmon’s career was not because the Jaguars were not trying to get him the football. Through his first ten games, Blackmon has been targeted 72 times, the most of any Jaguars receiver. Despite all of those targets, Blackmon has only caught 33 passes this season and has only scored twice. Most of those missed targets have been a result of poorly run routes or just not being on the same page as the quarterback.
While you would like a wide receiver as highly decorated as Blackmon was in college to come in and make an immediate impact on your offense, it is sometimes hard for receivers to make a significant impact in their first year. Sunday’s performance should have given Jaguars fans a glimpse as to what they can hope to see from Blackmon moving forward.
The Jaguars need to continue to game plan to Blackmon’s strengths as a player if they want to continue to get production out of him. Blackmon is never going to be able to line up on the outside and beat defenses deep with his speed, but he is extremely effective lining up in the slot and working over the middle of the field and creating yards after the catch.
It now appears that with the emergence of Blackmon and second-year teammate Cecil Shorts, the Jaguars have the makings of a dangerous wide receiver corps moving forward.