Jacksonville Jaguars rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon had the best outing of his young career on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, catching four passes for 67 yards with a long 36-yard catch and run. Late in the game however, Blaine Gabbert missed on a pass to Blackmon that looked like someone wasn't in the wrong spot, but the announcers began to hammer on Blackmon for jogging his route.
On the initial replay it did look like Blackmon slowed down and jogged on the route, but head coach Mike Mularkey didn't seem to think that was the case.
"I had heard that. Actually I heard it this morning and was told that I would probably be asked about it, so I just went back again and I watched the tape again by myself in that back room. I don’t see evidence of that, because I was looking for it because that’s not acceptable," Mularkey told the media on Monday when asked about the play. "I don’t like to hear it from anybody. I certainly don’t want to hear it from the weather man when I’m watching the weather in the morning talk about it during his hurricane report. I do look for that, and that is not acceptable in our offense or on our team to not finish plays. I didn’t see evidence of that."
I've gone back and watched the play a few times and it does appear to me Blackmon jogs for a few steps to finish out the route, but I'm not sure he'd have been able to catch the football even if he didn't, as Gabbert tries to put the football in a hole in the zone for Blackmon to go and get.
"There was one route that we’re talking about towards the end of the game where Blaine overthrew, not overthrew but he threw it to a hole. I don’t think that Justin Blackmon would ever got to the hole, but that would have been the hole," Mularkey explained. "I don’t know if he knew that ball was coming in there because there was a defender sitting in that spot we were going to try to hit. He threw it over the defender and over Justin and it looked like he slowed down, but that wasn’t the case. Hopefully that answers it."
When a player is accused of quitting on a play or giving up on a route, it's something that can stick with them for a while no matter how right or wrong the accusation is. This is part of the reason I like to watch games on mute or in a place where the sound can't really be heard, because announcers in the heat of the moment often get things completely wrong.
I've had some concerns with what I've seen from Blackmon on film with his effort and route running at times, but it seemed the announcers went a bit over the top on Sunday.
"There’s some things I could say with him he could finish the blocks a little more. He’ll peek back to see where the ball carrier is coming. The receivers have a tendency to do that," Mularkey elaborated on it looking like Blackmon wasn't hustling to the TV crew. "We don’t want them to do that. They’ve got to know somebody’s coming. A ball carrier is coming and you don’t have to look back. I promise you he’s coming. There’s times when you do that you get out of position to finish the play. That happened late in the game. That did happen."
Blackmon is a rookie, being asked to do a lot of things he didn't need to do in college, so it's obviously going to take some time. Loafing I'm not sure is one of the big things I'm too concerned with at this point in his career. His route running and lapses in catch concentration are much, much bigger concerns than his effort on the field.