Last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars were fortunate to see Marqise Lee have the best season of his career. For the first time since he was drafted, he was able to play a full 16-game season and at times he was the most productive player on a dysfunctional offense.
But the question has persisted all offseason:
Was 2016 a fluke for Marqise Lee?
Lee proved that he can fill in as the No. 2 receiver on the outside, replacing Allen Hurns, who was injured for the last six games of the season. He showed good hands, ability to get off the press, first-class route-running, and dexterous mobility — but his durability was thing that moved him to the top.
Concerning, however, was his awareness. At times, it seemed like he was hyper-focused counting the yards of the route, rather recognizing when his quarterback was in trouble. Sure, he could detect a pass rush. Sure, he could change his route. but throughout the season, one thing was apparent: Lee was lacking the awareness he needs to improve.
Here is the first play showing lack of awareness by Lee.
Again, CB couldn’t see the QB, M.Lee should’ve ran towards the front pylon to receive a dump pass for an easy TD. But no adjustment pic.twitter.com/WAtDwHrzYo— Laurie Fitz (@LaurieFitzptrck) July 26, 2017
As you can see he is lined up in the slot, assigned a corner route. The safety stays in coverage in the middle of the field with man-to-man on the outsides.
Once Lee saw the defender turn completely around, he should have changed his route towards the front pylon, received the pass and scored an easy touchdown.
As Blake rolled out, he was looking for Lee to get in front, but Lee was unable to make the adjustment.
Another instance was away against the Houston Texans.
Awareness needs improvement. At times, it seemed like he was focused counting the yds of the route & not recognizing when Blake had pressure pic.twitter.com/J2NNjuQ5yr— Laurie Fitz (@LaurieFitzptrck) July 26, 2017
As you can see here, they are in shotgun wing tight. This is play-action, so Bortles will get a second to examine the defense.
They are in a Cover 2 and the cornerback is playing man on Lee, the outside linebacker has the flat.
The play begins with Bortles immediately getting pressure by the defensive tackle, and because Lee is worried about the deep post route, he didn’t notice the rush. While Bortles looks for an open man down field, Lee should have seen the wide open middle. Once again, having the defensive back’s hips turned completely around making it harder for him to turn around, Lee misses the opportunity.
Despite Lee's lack of awareness, he showed signs that he is capable of being an impactful wide receiver in this league. Lee's quickness is something all defensive coordinators should be aware of, if not, they are in for a rude awakening.
He showed his superior route running. Pulled the defender inside & quickness created space to go up and get the ball at its highest point pic.twitter.com/MnUTewDaME— Laurie Fitz (@LaurieFitzptrck) July 26, 2017
Against the Tennessee Titans, in his touchdown reception, Lee showed his superior route running, speed and his catching ability.
On this play, Lee was able to pull the defender to the inside, make the cut out ,and his ability to be agile allowed him to create space to go up and get the ball.
Week 14 against Texans, once again, he showed his versatile mobility and route running ability.
CB** dble move to pull in the defender & uses his speed to beat him in a footrace to the endzone. Clear sign with time, he can beat any D pic.twitter.com/3zDOpFlY8K— Laurie Fitz (@LaurieFitzptrck) July 26, 2017
As you can see here, Lee is lined up as a wide out with a defensive back man-to-man and one defender over the top. He does a double move here to get his defender off balance, and his quickness allows him to run right by the defense to receive the pass in the end zone. Unfortunately, he couldn’t pull this one in, but it’s a clear sign that he is more than able to beat any defender with his route running and speed, even if they aren’t in press.
We’ve shown Lee’s ability to run right by the defensive backs. In this next clip, we watch Marqise run an In/Dig route.
He cuts right when the defender is pack peddling. Fast off the break than any one lined up across from him, a threat in any 3rd&10 situation pic.twitter.com/4hVVPM61xe— Laurie Fitz (@LaurieFitzptrck) July 26, 2017
He makes his cut at the perfect time, right when the defender is pack peddling. He is faster off the break than any one lined up across from him, this makes him a weapon in any third-and-10 situation.
Last year, Lee also showed tremendous ability to get into open space and get off blocks. He can do this with not just his agility but also with toughness.
Marqise is not a very big guy. He’s only 6’0” 190 pounds, therefore defenses try and get physical but he has the strength to shed the blocker and get to open space. Here are a couple slant routes where he uses his body to create space between himself and the defender.
Here are a couple slant routes where he uses his body to create space between himself and the defender. pic.twitter.com/71iJEhRFXL— Laurie Fitz (@LaurieFitzptrck) July 26, 2017
Further showing his route running ability, I put together some curl routes showing his speed off the break.
Further showing his route running ability, I put together some curl routes showing his speed off the break. pic.twitter.com/tLH9zfLZh8— Laurie Fitz (@LaurieFitzptrck) July 26, 2017
Lee is an all-around weapon. Most guys his size are utilized as a single offensive weapon, which makes play calling more predictable. Lee is not afraid to give a block on any defender when he gets the chance.
Most guys his size are utilized as a single off weapon.. & at times, makes play calling more predictable. Lee isnt afraid to give a block pic.twitter.com/EZhZalIlVA— Laurie Fitz (@LaurieFitzptrck) July 26, 2017
Anyone lined up across from Lee is more worried about his yards after the catch than deflecting the pass. This is also why his double move is so effective.
Unfortunately, Lee isn’t getting many opportunities for fades, posts, or corners for more yards after catch. His speed makes these quick routes and slants almost a guaranteed completion. According to Pro Football Focus, Blake Bortles’ slant route passer rating is at 125.4, second highest in the league only behind Aaron Rodgers.
Lee proved last year that he can be productive. With Leonard Fournette in the backfield, and Hurns returning, this may allow fewer opportunities for Lee — but in the end its all up to Lee to prove he can be an impact player for the Jaguars.
As long as he keeps his eye on the ball, success will come his way!