It’s been a campaign of calamity for the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of unfulfilled expectations in which underachieving has seemingly becoming the norm.
Ahead of Sunday’s instate showdown with the Dolphins, jobs are at stake as a season lost limps to its conclusion.
Highlights have been hard to find, but lost in the losses has been the promise of receiver/return man Dede Westbrook.
Westbrook’s 56 catches, 662 yards receiving, five receiving touchdowns and six total touchdowns are all team-highs, though admittedly the Jaguars’ offense has been anemic (30th in scoring offense).
In the Jaguars’ latest loss, a 16-13 setback to the Redskins in which the teams engaged in a woeful offensive outing, Westbrook’s 74-yard punt return to the house was Jacksonville’s only touchdown.
It was a play perhaps emblematic of Westbrook being a glimmer of hope in an otherwise disastrous season for the Jaguars.
Westbrook has showed his ability for the big play and to be a consistent weapon at receiver.
Over the last three games, the Jaguars have cobbled together only 28 combined points with two touchdowns — both of them scored by Westbrook. He’s tallied three touchdowns over the last four games, with a 6-0 win against the Colts as the only game in which he didn’t find the end zone. While the stats certainly don’t jump off the page, in the offensive struggles that have been a huge storyline for Jacksonville, Westbrook has been the one who provides the rare exclamation points.
“I feel like I’m an athlete,” Westbrook told Heilman. “I can play whatever you need me to play. That’s my tendency. That’s what I live by. For those guys, they can pretty much put me anywhere, and I’m going to do it.”
As a rookie out of Oklahoma, Westbrook played in only three games and mustered 339 yards receiving and one touchdown during the Jaguars’ ascent to the AFC Championship Game.
Losses have mounted this season for the Jaguars (4-10), though, as they look to snap a two-game losing streak and rescue themselves from a stretch in which they’ve lost nine of 10.
“I’m frustrated because at the end of the day, we’re going out there and busting our tails and we can’t all come together as one and get a team win,” Westbrook said. “That’s tough and that’s difficult because at the end of the day, yes we love football. But we also love to win.”
Changes aplenty will come for Jacksonville when the 2018 season reaches its merciful end, but Westbrook — along with the play of stellar Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey — has provided some overlooked promise that some hope — and highlights — still lies within the Jaguars.