Dede Wesbrook lone play maker for struggling Jaguars

2nd year WR leads team in catches, yards and touchdowns

By Brian Jackson - Digital sports reporter
USA Today

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - When Dede Westbrook returned a punt 74-yards for a touchdown against the Redskins it was the Jaguars first touchdown at TIAA Bank Field since Nov. 18. 

Since taking over as the primary punt returner in week seven, Westbrook looked like he was on the verge of breaking a big return. Sunday it finally happened and was the biggest reason Jacksonville even kept it close in their 16-13 loss to Washington.

 “It felt good, but at the end of the day it wasn’t enough," said Westbrook on how good his punt return felt. "The moral of the story is win. Obviously, we have to do that at all phases, and I’m glad that I was able to help my team on the special teams side of it, but we’ve still got to execute defensively and offensively as well to get a win."

Big plays, whether on offense or special teams, have been a rare occurrence for the Jaguars this season.

Inserting Cody Kessler at quarterback hasn’t helped matters. In three games as the starter the Jaguars offense has produced just one touchdown. 

The one guy who has consistently made plays is Westbrook. When he touches the football good things happen. In his second season the former fourth round pick leads the team in catches, yards and touchdown receptions. Fourteen of those catches have gone for 20-yards or more which is nearly as many as the rest of the Jaguars receivers combined. 

“Yeah, Dede is just a playmaker and a great player," said quarterback Cody Kessler. "You saw him on special teams, on offense. Whether it’s getting a handoff on one of those, he’s definitely a guy you want to find and get the ball to.”

Jacksonville has also been creative in finding ways to get Westbrook the ball. He had a 20-yard gain on an end-around against Washington. For the season he’s averaging over 10-yards per carry. 

Based on how the Jaguars roster is currently constructed, whoever ends up as their offensive coordinator next season doesn’t have a whole lot to work with. The offensive line is a mess. Who knows who the quarterback will be? 

In Dede Westbrook the Jaguars have a young receiver who they can start rebuilding this offense around. 

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