Jacksonville Jaguars Week 17 Stock Report
The Jacksonville Jaguars are preparing for their final game of the season as they try to play spoiler to the Houston Texans' playoff hopes. The Jaguars themselves are eliminated, but winning on the road in Houston would be a nice victory to end the season.
The Jaguars' season is essentially over, but earning a victory over the Texans wouldn't be a terrible consolation prize. However, the Jaguars have failed to put it together most weeks this season, and last week's loss against the New Orleans Saints doesn't put their chances in a positive light either.
But Jacksonville has shown it is capable of beating teams of similar quality to the Texans, so it should expect to at least be in position to win late in the game.
It's hard to be motivated for a game like this, especially when a loss could improve the Jaguars' draft position, but a team can't go into a game with a losing mentality. The Jaguars know they can win this game and should be making an effort to do so.
The season has been a disappointment, but giving up before the final whistle blows shouldn't be an option. The Jaguars are still looking to improve and show themselves and the rest of the country that they are progressing.
Marqise Lee Continues Involvement, Receives Another Stock Raise
Wide receiver Marqise Lee's frustrating injury issues and lack of cohesion in the offense have made 2015 a forgettable year, but he's slowly starting to show the promise that we saw in his time at USC.
After two big plays against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 15, he followed it up with three catches for 26 yards, including a touchdown grab, his first of the season. It's encouraging to see Lee slowly get comfortable in the offense, especially since he's been able to stay healthy for a string of weeks.
He isn't going to reach the success of receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns anytime soon, but he does bring a new dynamic over the middle, and his quickness cannot be underestimated.
It's been tough to sit through, but Lee is now healthy and actively looking to get more involved. Developing his confidence is the first step in that process, and it seems to be happening at the end of the 2015 season.
The "Leos" Fail to Deliver, All Receive a Stock Drop
The Jaguars have suffered from a dull pass rush all season, and Saints quarterback Drew Brees shredded them because of it. He didn't see much opposition from the secondary either, but he seemed to have as much time as he pleased on Sunday.
Defensive ends Andre Branch, Chris Clemons and Ryan Davis all had opportunities, but, as we've seen all season, the opposing offensive line constantly held them up and neutralized them.
Few defensive positions have a singular, primary job, but the "Leo" position has its priority and doesn't do much else, so when the position fails to execute, it's a major blow to the game plan.
The Jaguars can't expect the rest of the team to pick up the slack. That's really hindered the Jaguars' ability to run certain packages and play the style of game they want.
However, I wouldn't expect that problem, at least from Branch and Clemons, much longer. Neither has done a consistent enough job to warrant a spot next season, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them both move on from Jacksonville.
Paul Posluszny Continues to Excel Despite Injury and Age, Earns a Stock Bump
Linebacker Paul Posluszny has been a "rock" of the defense for a good while now, but the 2015 season was expected to be the twilight of his success. The 31-year-old had other ideas.
The end of the 2014 season wasn't great for Poz, but he has bounced back, despite being a year older and also dealing with a fractured hand. He had a big interception against the Falcons, and he added a sack and a pass defended on top of nine tackles last Sunday.
Posluszny's 2015 may have been his best year in Jacksonville yet. His tenacity hasn't withered in the slightest, and he seems to be more comfortable with the defense and the personnel than ever before.
He was one of the few defensive players this season who can say they had more positive performances than negative ones, and his impressive showing against the Saints adds to the pile.
He is getting older, but he's doing his best to not show it. Some wondered if Posluszny would be an important factor in 2015 and if he would even be in Jacksonville in 2016, but he's proved he still has a major role to play.
Nick Marshall Can't Continue Solid Performance, Sees a Stock Drop
Corner Nick Marshall had shown some significant improvement against the Falcons and Indianapolis Colts, but he wasn't able to replicate that against the Saints. In fact, he was a bit of a liability.
That's to be expected when an undrafted free agent has to see as much playing time as he has, but it was especially awful that Saints receiver Brandin Cooks burned him on pretty much every target.
Marshall is a precarious player because of his lack of big-time experience at the corner position. He has shown flashes of ability and promise, but having to play a position he hasn't touched since high school is an especially difficult task.
The Jaguars now face the predicament of whether or not it'd be worth it to continue investing in Marshall. There is certainly a chance that he can be a solid defensive back, maybe even a really good one, but days like Sunday don't help his case.
Allen Hurns Reaches a Couple of Milestones and Receives a Stock Increase
Robinson has been the star for the Jaguars as of late, which has made it easy to forget exactly how dangerous Hurns can be when he gets going. He showed that Sunday, as he totaled 107 yards and two TDs against the Saints.
Hurns reached 1,000 yards receiving and 10 TDs on the season with Sunday's performance, two major moments for the UDFA out of Miami. His promising rookie season fell flat because of inconsistency, but 2015 has been a step in the right direction.
He's had to deal with a few different injuries as well as competing for targets with Robinson and tight end Julius Thomas, so the fact that he's reached these numbers in 14 games is even more impressive.
Robinson may be the current No. 1, but Hurns offers more explosiveness and is a better target over the middle, while Robinson has made his money on the outside. Robinson can make big plays, but Hurns can take the ball and do incredible things after the catch.
Quarterback Blake Bortles simply can't go wrong with most of his options, and Hurns has become one of his deadliest receivers. 2015 was a great year for Hurns, but 2016 could hold something even better.
All stats provided by ESPN.com unless otherwise stated.
Evan Reier is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the Jacksonville Jaguars. Follow Evan on Twitter @evanreier.
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