Jaguars young receivers grow up against Seahawks
Westbrook, Cole, Lee combine for 245 receiving yards against Seattle
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When training camp began in July, wide receiver was arguably the deepest position on the Jaguars roster. That depth was immediately tested when Allen Robinson tore his ACL on the Jaguars first offensive drive of the season.
There aren’t many NFL teams that can survive an entire season without their top receiving threat. Allen Hurns, Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook were there to fill the void left by Robinson. Through 12 games, that group was inconsistent at best. To make matters worse, Hurns has missed the past four games with ankle injury. That left Bortles with Lee and two rookies as his top receivers.
During the Jaguars 30-24 win over Seattle, the trio of Lee, Westbrook and Cole put together their best combined effort of the season. In the third quarter, Bortles floated a perfect 18-yard pass to Westbrook for the first touchdown of his career.
“I give (Westbrook) credit because when you are placed on that (IR), you aren’t practicing, so people kind of lose sight of that a little bit,” said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone. “Here’s this young kid who is practicing and then all of a sudden he’s not practicing for a long period of time. How do you get him caught up as far as the timing with the quarterback and in-game timing and things of that nature? He has done a very good job working his butt off to do that.”
Explosive plays in the passing game are something that had been missing for the Jaguars all season long. Westbrook finished with a career-high 81 receiving yards and Cole also had a career high with 99-yards.
“I think ,as a receiving core, as the whole offense, we played pretty well and that’s how I was able to get open and get those big plays down the field,” Westbrook said when asked if he felt as if this was his coming out party.
After getting out to a 10-0 lead, the Jaguars saw that advantage evaporate quickly. After a field goal put Seattle on the board, Corey Grant fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Russell quickly hit Doug Baldwin for a touchdown to tie the game at 10.
Instead of going with a conservative play call the Jaguars opted to take a shot downfield on their next play from scrimmage. The result was a 75-yard completion from Bortles to Cole, which changed the entire momentum of the game.
“It was kind of funny because we repped it a couple times during the week,” Bortles said of the touchdown to Cole. “I think it was the first play of practice on Wednesday and I threw a pick on it and we changed up the read on it and said, 'we’re going to throw this ball to Keelan no matter what. If it’s not open, check it down.' He ran an unbelievable route and, obviously, ran away from everyone.”
The Jaguars trio of Cole, Westbrook and Lee combined for 245 yards on 13 catches (18.8 yards per reception). That type of production meant that Seattle wasn’t able to stack the box with eight or nine defenders. The result was Leonard Fournette having over 100 yards rushing for the first time in three games.
“It feels great, not just for the team, but for our organization," Fournette, who finished with 101 yards and a touchdown, said. “Before I got here, I noticed their record here. They drafted me, DeDe (Westbrook), Cam (Robinson) and (Keelan) Cole, and the young guys are coming along well.”
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