After a Pro Bowl-caliber second season in the NFL, Jacksonville Jaguars receiver DJ Chark Jr. continues to set the bar high in what he believes he should be able to provide on the gridiron.
While the Jaguars as a whole have not performed up to its standards this season, starting the year 1-7 and currently in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, neither has its star receiver in Chark, who was slated to become the next-best at the position in the NFL this year.
In 2019, Chark burst onto the scene as a second-year receiver out of LSU, accumulating 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He would join defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Josh Allen at the Pro Bowl as an alternate, and headline a large majority of “next-best” lists throughout the offseason.
This year, it’s been different. While the receiver has dealt with injuries throughout the year, he has not performed up to his standards, catching just 33 passes for 437 yards and four touchdowns. The bulk of his production would come against the Houston Texans last week, catching seven passes for 146 yards and a touchdown, the most productive game of the season for the young receiver.
Due to a lack of production and self-admitted high standards on himself, Chark has expressed frustrations on the sideline as well as in postgame press conferences. He says, while many may feel as though he’s being hard on someone else, or the team in general, it’s mainly himself.
“I have pretty high goals for myself, goals that I usually don’t speak on, but I hold myself to those standards,” Chark said on Wednesday. “So, any frustration that the outside may see, it’s because of my goals and the way that I want things to happen, not necessarily based on anyone else or the team or anything.
“It’s really an internal battle for myself and so even on good games, like the last game, I felt like I did well, but if I had to grade myself it definitely wasn’t 100 percent and I definitely feel like I could’ve done better.”
Chark’s explosion of a performance this past Sunday came right away as the the team’s rookie quarterback, Jake Luton threw a perfect pass deep, allowing Chark to get up under it for a 73-yard touchdown reception, some of what he spectators are accustomed to seeing from the third-year receiver.
While it seemed as though there might have been a change in the receiver’s approach on Sunday compared to weeks prior, Chark says that’s not the case, it was simply a matter of doing what he’s always done best - make a play.
“I feel like I do that every week, so whatever the numbers may be after the game, it’s what they are,” said Chark. “As long as I can go back and look at film and say I ran this route hard, I got open, I saw the defense before I ran this route and made the right adjustment, then I sleep well at night.”
Although he is still a young player in the NFL, Chark’s high expectations can cause a rift in his ability, putting too much on his shoulders. Now, he’s trying to find a balance, while still trying to perform to the best of his abilities and up to his expectations, with some help from his now-wife, Chantelle Deanna Yukari Chark.
“That’s something that my wife talked to me about, just basically I can’t put too much pressure on shoulders but I feel like if I want to be great, that’s the expectations that I have to reach. It’s really just me versus me. It’s not necessarily anything someone else is doing.”