To say that DJ Chark had a quiet rookie season would be an understatement.
The Jacksonville Jaguars spent a late second round pick on the LSU wide receiver who flashed big play potential and speed — a lot of speed — in college. But last year was a bit of a blur for him. He finished the year mostly contributing on special teams and racking up just 14 catches for 174 yards. No touchdowns. Nothing much of note except for a couple of big catches against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5 and a good kickoff return against the Houston Texans in the season finale.
Both blowout losses. Both easily forgotten.
But in their season opener this season, Chark was a force to be reckoned with. He nearly totaled his production last year with 146 yards and he scored his first NFL touchdown.
While some of us watching may have been surprised at Chark’s day, no one inside the Jaguars locker room was shocked — and that certainly includes offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
“I don’t think anybody in our locker room was surprised by DJ’s performance on Sunday. I think he has been doing that from training camp on. You saw flashes in the spring in the OTAs. I think from training camp on, he’s been a force to be reckoned with, especially down the field. That is a big man that can run fast. Whenever you have those combinations and you can high point the football … He was covered on the touchdown. You never feel bad for the opponent, but I was like, ‘Man, you can’t get any better coverage than that.’ He did a great job of leaning back on the defender and shielding him off. It’s exactly what we teach, and he has bought in to what we’re teaching, and I think that he approaches the game every day at practice with a very serious mindset. He’s a very serious guy and I like that. I like guys that love football. That is why he has gotten a lot better.”
After the game, former Jaguars great Jeff Lageman broke down what made the play so special.
With Gardner Minshew making his first NFL start so early in the season, Jacksonville will need every one of its offensive weapons to be at their best. It’s good to see the receivers — led by Chark in Week 1 — are showing they’re up to the task.