After a 2010 season where we saw the former 2006 first round draft pick out of UCLA make the Pro Bowl and then sign a new contract with the team, Marcedes Lewis had a season last year he would just as soon forget about.
Lewis came into camp late after signing a 5-year, $35 million contract with the team. And then all he did was have a dismal season.
The big target in the Jaguars offense said off-the-field issues contributed a lot to his poor performance last season and he hopes 2012 will show he is more of the player in 2010 than the aberration fans and coaches saw last season.
Lewis is on record as saying family issues involving his daughter left him out of sync and with a loss of focus, which contributed to dropped passes and poor receiving routes. It did not help that Blaine Gabbert could not find No. 87 in the passing attack last year and when he did, many of his passes were thrown at his feet.
Those are hard to catch when you are 6’6” and can outrun linebackers across the middle of the field. And if seeing is believing, this reporter has been to Jaguars’ camp to see the progress. The routes are sharp, the concentration seems to be there, and maybe he can be the red zone target he was envisioned to be last season.
Lewis dropped from 58 to 39 catches, but his 460 receiving yards still led the team, something that should still concern the Jaguars’ offensive staff.
Not all of the Jaguars’ passing and receiving woes can be blamed on Lewis, but when you are that big and a Pro Bowl player the season before with 10 touchdowns, when productivity diminishes, fingers get pointed your way.
According to a story on Jacksonville.com, Lewis said he allowed the personal issues in his life to affect his passion for the game and in turn, that affected the team as well. Armed with a new offense, he is learning with the rest of the team, and putting the past behind him is one of his main goals for this season.
"I am human, things happen," said Lewis in the online interview. "The good thing about playing this game, you can wake up and do it all over again. My main focus is to continue to get better and get back where I was."
Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey uses the tight end in his passing option quite a bit. Having been graced with Heath Miller in Pittsburgh and then Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta, the hope is Lewis can play somewhere in between those two players and hopefully even better.
The main thing the team will be looking for is more consistency from both Lewis and the rest of the Jaguars' offensive players. If Lewis can regain the 2010 form that made him a household name, it also means the Jaguars, and especially their quarterback, will find success on the field.