As Jaguars players go, only one can recall the last time the team made it to the playoffs. And that player could be a significant factor in a potential return to the postseason.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis, a first-round pick in 2006 who started 16 regular-season games and two playoff games in 2007, finds himself poised for a potential resurgence now that: (1) Julius Thomas is gone; and (2) the Jaguars didn’t otherwise dramatically beef up the position.
So there likely will be more from Marcedes Lewis in 2017, after four straight seasons with 25 or fewer catches.
“Just from talking to [offensive coordinator Nathaniel] Hackett, my mindset is that I will be used more,” Lewis said, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. “I’m ready for it. I’m ready for this kind of load and so far during the installation [of the offense], we’re not decoys. It’s pretty cool.”
Lewis has shown in the past that he can get it done in the passing game, with 52 catches in 2012 and 58 in 2010. As O’Halloran notes, using Lewis as a more complete tight end makes the run/pass guessing game harder for opposing defenses. Last year, if Lewis was on the field a run was likely coming; if Thomas was lined up at tight end, it was going to be a pass.
It’s a subtle yet important aspect of NFL offensive design — making it as hard as possible to know what’s coming before it arrives. The more versatile the player, the easier it is to eliminate the kind of tendencies and tells that come through eventually in film study.