Shorts Isn't Bad, He's Just Miscast

The Jaguars will have a free agent decision to make on Cecil Shorts. Find out why he's struggled in a contract year and it's not necessarily a done deal that he'll be out of Jacksonville.

By most accounts, Cecil Shorts 2014 season has been a disappointment.

Lingering injury concerns have forced Shorts to miss three games and his numbers have been down considerably. Shorts has just 40 receptions with 82 targets for just 419 yards with just one touchdown. He’s headed toward his worst season since his rookie year when he played sparingly.

In Sunday’s 27-13 loss to the Texans, Shorts was targeted 10 times but had just two catches for three yards.

“I think he really only had maybe four opportunities to have the catches,” Jaguars’ offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said of his most experienced wide receiver. “One of them he was tangled up pretty good. On the other one and obviously he had a drop on the second and ten. Yeah, I think he’ll be fine. I think Cecil played a good game it was just an unfortunate set of circumstances where we missed the throw behind him where he’d have a catch there, he missed another throw where it got batted, we had a wide open post and we had to break out of contain because of a miss on a protection. Fortunately for Cecil there were ten balls thrown his way but only about four catchables.”

The decline in play comes at the worst possible time as Cecil is scheduled to hit free agency at the end of the season.

Although Shorts hasn’t been all that dependable, based on health and often shaky hands, his season looks worse than it actually is on the surface. Cecil Shorts is an NFL receiver, he’s just not a No. 1 NFL wide receiver.

That’s what he’s been asked to be in Jacksonville.

Shorts doesn’t have the ability to consistently beat one-on-one coverage against elite cornerbacks. He’s doesn’t have the suddenness of a Wes Welker in the slot and he’s certainly not athletic enough to be an Odell Beckham type on the outside.

If you put any square peg in a round hole the results will not be wonderful.

It doesn’t mean Cecil Shorts is a bad receiver. He’s a solid football player that has been miscast. If Shorts is the complement to a legitimate No. 1 receiver he can help an offense.

In Jacksonville, Cecil has to not only be a team leader to young, inexperienced guys, but he has to be a player he’s not, a game changer.

Although we’ve seen middle-round draft picks step up and become stars, most are just pieces. Cecil Shorts is just a piece in the Jaguars, or most likely someone else’s offense. He’s not going to elevate the play of Blake Bortles as A.J. Green does with Andy Dalton. He doesn’t have that type of talent level.

It’s not necessarily the fault of the Jaguars’ coaching staff. They don’t have a Dez Bryant to plug in. If Justin Blackmon was able to stay on the football field, Shorts would be in a better position to succeed. Not all shortcomings in a player’s career can be based solely upon “bad luck,” but with Shorts injuries and the lack of experienced talent around him, he is simply been dealt a poor hand.

Shorts’ struggles are yet another example and subsequent outcome of the poor roster construction stemming from the Gene Smith era.

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