The Jaguars' offense ran through wide receiver Cecil Shorts for the first four games of the season with Justin Blackmon suspended. Jacksonville's playmaking wideout racked up some impressive totals as the team's No. 1 receiving option even with opponents keying on him in the passing game.
|1||vs. Kansas City||10||3||40||13.3||0|
Even with Blackmon back in the lineup from Weeks 5 through 8, Shorts was still plenty productive. He was injured on the first play of the game against the Broncos in Week 6, but put up impressive totals in the other three contests as option 1B to Blackmon's 1A.
|5||@ St. Louis||11||5||74||14.8||1|
|7||vs. San Diego||13||8||80||10.0||0|
|8||vs. San Francisco||10||7||74||10.6||0|
During Jacksonville's Week 9 bye, Blackmon was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for violating its Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, leaving Shorts again as "the man" in the passing game. Many thought he would rack up double-digit targets every game and make a legitimate run at 1,000 yards receiving, something the Jaguars haven't had since Jimmy Smith broke the 1,000-yard mark in 2006.
Fast forward two weeks, and Shorts has been targeted more like a backup tight end than a top receiver. Quarterback Chad Henne has thrown a combined 65 passes in those two games, and Shorts' nine targets make up only 13.8 percent of those attempts.
After this week's 27-14 loss to Arizona, Shorts spoke up about his lack of attention in the passing game to the Florida Times-Union's Jaguars Beat Writer Ryan O'Halloran:
#Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (two catches): "I'm not holding my tongue anymore ... " (con't)— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) November 17, 2013
Shorts: "To have 1 target until 7 minutes left in the game, that's [bleeping] dumb. That's dumb, period." #Jaguars— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) November 17, 2013
Shorts is supposed to be the team's best receiving option; to go 50 minutes with only one target in a game where his quarterback threw 42 passes is simply criminal. Jacksonville's offense was shut out in the second half against the Cardinals. Perhaps if they had looked for Shorts more often, they would have had more success?
Shorts was given the opportunity to throw his offensive coordinator and/or quarterback under the bus, but wisely declined:
Asked if his problem is with the play-calling or trigger man, Shorts said: "I've said too much already." #Jaguars— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) November 17, 2013
As a professional athlete, I believe it's perfectly reasonable to discuss your role on the team with your coach. The idea of having a defined role is that a player knows what's expected of him and is in a position to be successful. Shorts should probably sit down with Coach Bradley and discuss the reason he's been a minor part of the game plan over the past two weeks.
Shorts on if he'll go to Gus: "I have to say something and sit down with them because it's getting ridiculous in my opinion." #jaguars— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) November 17, 2013
Looks like Shorts is ahead of me there. There's a common saying: "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." The meaning of the saying in sports is that players who complain about their role are usually force-fed in the next game.
Is Cecil Shorts the Jaguars' best offensive player?
After this week's disappointing loss at home to the Cardinals, Cecil Shorts is the squeakiest of wheels, and the offensive coordinator should break out the Costco-sized bucket of grease for Week 12 and beyond.
If Shorts is a major part of the Jacksonville offense, the Jaguars have a better chance of winning, plain and simple. Grease that man up and let him go.