In the preseason, he flashed moments of brilliance.
In the preseason, local sports personalities were calling him “Spiderman” because it seemed everything thrown to him was caught in motion. In the preseason, we saw the “potential” in Justin Blackmon, the uber-talented wide receiver out of Oklahoma State—the player for whom the Jacksonville Jaguars traded up two spots with Tampa Bay to draft this past April.
In the regular season, the team, the fans and the league have barely seen him in the Jacksonville office. Should local officials put out an APB on No. 14?
It would seem a curious question since Cecil Shorts was the target on the 80-yard game-winning catch against the Indianapolis Colts last week and with the Bengals in town and the emergence of second-year receiver, A.J. Green, as one of the best in the business, it is now time for Blackmon, who has not been the focus of the team’s passing offense, to show he can be every bit as good as his Cincinnati counterpart.
Through the first three games (in which the Jaguars have posted a 1-2 record) Blackmon has 31 yards receiving. It's hard to fathom why he's not been more productive, given his huge numbers at Oklahoma State.
"It's not that bad," Blackmon said Wednesday in an Associated Press article (via ESPN.com). "When it happens, it'll happen. I don't control it. All I can do is get out there and play."
But Jaguar fans have waited all too long for a big-play threat with speed to burn. They have been teased by the likes of Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Jerry Porter and others. They long for the days of Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell.
So far, they haven’t seen anything in return on the team’s investment.
Rookie head coach Mike Mularkey, who is trying to transform last year's 5-11 team into a winning unit, said (also in the aforementioned espn.com piece) he thought Blackmon was “pressing too much":
I just told him to be patient, 'It's coming. We'll get you the ball. There's going to be a time that you'll understand what we're doing'...I think he's handling it very well. He's doing everything we ask him to do.
With the success both A.J. Green and second-year quarterback Andy Dalton have had for the Bengals, it would be nice for both Blackmon and second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert to have a breakout game this weekend at EverBank Field.
Blackmon understands what the coaching staff is saying and how the fans and the media are reacting to his slow start, but as he stated in the story, he does not think there is anything to worry about with his recent play.
Blackmon did show he is more than a pass-catcher in the win over the Colts, as his downfield blocking helped Maurice Jones-Drew rack up 177 yards on the ground.
But let’s be clear, Blackmon is being paid to catch a football, first, and block for those carrying the football, second. Right now, he is allowing the football season to “happen” and whatever “happens” he will accept for the time being.
"I'm a patient person. Like I said, if the ball comes, it comes. If it doesn't, I'm happy. I can't control that. I want to be able to help the team out. Right now, I'm just doing what I can to do that."