In this series, Michael DiRocco counts down the 10 plays that shaped the Jaguars’ season.
Play No. 6: Blackmon’s debut
Situation: First-and-10 from the Jacksonville 33-yard line.
Time: 10:38 remaining in the first quarter.
DiRocco’s take: Receiver Justin Blackmon’s first touch of the season was a 67-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown that gave the Jaguars a 7-0 lead against St. Louis. The Jaguars went with a quick snap after picking up a first down on a 21-yard pass from Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts and that caught the St. Louis defense flat-footed. There was some confusion and some of the players weren’t set when the Jaguars snapped the ball. Gabbert hit Shorts with a short pass and he out-ran the safeties to the end zone. Blackmon ended up catching three passes for 90 yards in the first quarter.
Season impact: Blackmon had missed the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and his impact on the offense was easily apparent against the Rams. The Jaguars racked up 156 yards (they had just 178 total against Kansas City and 205 against Indianapolis), had three plays of 20 or more yards, and scored 10 points. Blackmon gave the offense the ability to stretch the field and kept defenses from concentrating on shutting down Shorts, who had struggled in the role of No. 1 receiver in the first four games. The St. Louis game and the following week against Denver proved Blackmon had become the key to the offense. During the first four games, the Jaguars averaged 224 yards of total offense and 7.8 points. In the first two games with Blackmon in the lineup, the Jaguars averaged 362.5 yards of total offense and 19.5 points. Blackmon caught 19 passes for 326 yards and a touchdown against the Rams and Broncos, but more importantly, the Jaguars were in each game in the fourth quarter: trailing the Rams by seven points and the Broncos by 11. It was a fleeting impact, though, because Blackmon lasted just four games before being suspended indefinitely for another violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Quote: “It just popped open. Blaine [Gabbert] made a call and we reacted. The defense was flustered. We converted third down [the play before] and they were running off the field. We hurried up and just snapped the ball.” -- Blackmon