The Jags will get production this year, but the question is — from who?
Holt’s production dropped last season as the Rams went from a respectable offense to a dreadful sight to watch. He caught 64 passes for 796 yards and three touchdowns, the first year he caught less than 90 receptions since 2001 when he shared the role with future Hall of Famer Isaac Bruce.
The 6’0” 200-pound, 33 year-old receiver has caught only four receptions in three of the Jaguars preseason games at Miami and Philadelphia, and vs. the Buccaneers. His only TD was on a fumble recovery near the goal line which he jumped on.
When the regular season begins, the seven-time Pro Bowler figures to get the ball in the end zone a lot more for reasons beyond being at the right place at the right time.
Ranked number fourteen among career receiving yard leaders, with just 439 yards Holt can move ahead of Andre Reed for tenth all-time. He’s still not a lock for the Hall of Fame, but a great year could solidify his place in Canton.
Jacksonville’s best receiving performance during this year’s preseason has come from Troy Williamson who in three games has eight catches for 232 yards and a TD.
Last season Williamson, who also played three years with Minnesota before coming to Jax, grabbed only five receptions for 30 yards and a TD. He’s a little small at 6’1” 203-pounds, but he may prove to be productive on the other side of Holt.
Big on most people’s list of top fantasy player’s is fourth-year running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who also has to figure in as a receiving option. Last season the all-over-the-field threat increased his production in every category with 197 rushes for 824 yards and 62 receptions for 565 yards. He also had 14 total TDs as a RB, rushing and receiving.
With the departure of long-time back Fred Taylor, and without the emergence of a solid number two RB thus far in the preseason, Jones-Drew’s role will increase even more.
Quarterback David Garrard’s ability to get the ball to the open man will determine the Jaguars success in the passing game.
“When (Garrard) had the really good year, we were running the ball well and he was making a lot of plays in and out of the pocket,” Jaguars quarterbacks coach Mike Shula said. “Last year, we were struggling to run and I think he struggled a little bit, too. We’ve got to get back to that good mix. He feeds off the running game, but the running game will feed off him.”
Last season Garrard’s inconsistent play in which he had 15 TDs and 13 interceptions, was enough for fantasy owners to drop the aging 31 year old QB going into his eighth year. Although his passing yards passing yards increased from 2,509 in 2007 to 3,620 in ’08, he was sacked 42 times and the int’s caused his QB rating to fall from 102.2 to 81.7.
Garrard would like to get more big plays out of his receivers this year. Last season his longest completion was for 41 yards. In this year’s preseason Garrard connected with Williamson on a 74-yard TD bomb vs. the Buccaneers.
In the third preseason game vs. Eagles, when starters typically play the most, Garrard was caught staring down Holt in the second quarter and Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel rarely fails to take advantage of that opportunity, stealing the ball for the interception.
The veteran QB will have to continue to build chemistry with the veteran WR in order for the Jags to be successful in the passing game this year.