Justin Blackmon: Breaking Down Why Rookie WR Is Finally Breaking Out

John RozumCorrespondent INovember 26, 2012

November 4, 2012; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon (14) runs out onto the field before the game against the Detroit Lions at EverBank Field. The Lions defeated the Jaguars 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-US PRESSWIRE

Blame Chad Henne for the recent surge of receiver Justin Blackmon.

In the past two games, Blackmon has caught 12 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns. Well, that's what happens when a veteran such as Henne gets under center and still possesses a strong arm.

After all, Henne logged 354 passing yards with four scores to zero picks against the Houston Texans. He then led the Jacksonville Jaguars to their second win of 2012 by going 17-of-26 for 261 yards with two scores—one pick—against the Tennessee Titans.

Blaine Gabbet was simply holding the rookie receiver's potential back. And Henne displays what has transpired over the past two weeks.


Note: All screen caps are courtesy of NFL.com's Game Rewind.



Henne's Arm Strength + Blackmon's Talent = Six Points

On a 3rd-and-21 in the fourth quarter vs. Houston, Jacksonville was leading 27-20 and in control.

With plenty of time remaining, however, the Jaguars couldn't afford to get complacent. As a result, Henne dials up Blackmon on a go-for-broke play and it ends up being an 81-yard score.

Although the Jags ultimately lost the game, this connection displayed Jacksonville's future potential with Henne at the helm. Here, the Texans play a base Cover-2 and rush four defenders at Henne.

Interestingly enough, if there has been one positive constant of Jacksonville's quarterbacks in 2012, it's that interceptions have been held to a minimum (only eight combined through 11 games now).

This is a simple play where Henne is to hold the safety to his right (bottom safety) and allow Blackmon's outside release on the seam route to develop. The red line indicates the narrow separation Blackmon gets from his initial defender, and Henne makes his throw at the exact same time.

You can see the triangle of defenders where Henne must fit the ball and this pass happens because of confidence. A strong arm is one thing Henne has always provided to any group of receivers, and that's why this triangular hole is not able to close fast enough.

It also helps that Blackmon got just enough separation from the underneath defender to go up and make the play.

Blackmon then makes the reception in traffic, breaks a tackle and proceeds to score. In short, there is still no defense for a perfect pass.



This Time, Henne's Experience + Blackmon's Development = Six Points

Leading the Titans 14-12 and on the verge of extending their lead, the Jaguars were inside the red zone and looking to basically seal the win.

What unfolds is Henne quickly surveying the field, Blackmon settling his route underneath and making a play after the catch. Let's take a look.

Notice the spy linebacker in the middle, getting him out of the way is the first part to this play. The second part is the tight end shield provided as the play develops.

Henne takes the snap and immediately looks to his right which gets the linebacker moving away from Blackmon. And as the pattern unfolds, it's Blackmon's patience and trust in the tight end running off one defender to open up his underneath route.

When Henne makes the throw, look how far off the linebacker now is from Blackmon. Had he not done so, this play has no chance of scoring. Also, the defender who was run off now leaves Tennessee with only one guy capable of making a tackle.

Blackmon turns away from that defender upon making the catch and gets the touchdown. As you can see here, the run-off defender is too deep in the end zone to come up and stop Blackmon from scoring.

All phases worked on these two plays for Henne, Blackmon and the Jaguars. Provided this continues, Jacksonville can field a rather potent offense and potentially make some noise in 2013.


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