The Jaguars have had a few very good pair of players in their history that have formed dynamic duos in the NFL. These duos include:
- Receivers Jimmy Smith & Keenan McCardell (1996-2001)
- Running-backs Fred Taylor & Maurice Jones-Drew (2006-2008)
- Receivers Allen Robinson & Allen Hurns (2014-2016)
- Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey & A.J. Bouye (2017-present)
However, there is one pair that isn’t talked about much and that is probably because this pair thrived in the worst season in Jaguars history.
This duo I am referring to is Cecil Shorts III & Justin Blackmon. This pair came to rise in the 2012 season that saw the Blaine Gabbert/Chad Henne-led Jaguars fall to a franchise-worst 2-14 record.
On top of that, the fact that Justin Blackmon went on to disappear the following season (due to numerous off the field issues) makes it that much easier for so many to forget this duo.
However, then 1st round rookie Justin Blackmon, and 2nd year player Cecil Shorts III, absolutely caught the league by storm when they went on to combine for 119 catches, 1,844 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns in the 2012 season.
What may have been more impressive, however, was that this production came with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne at quarterback.
Unfortunately, this duo lasted for a total of 17 games. To understand why this duo didn’t fully live up to their potential, we must first dissect each player individually.
Shorts was drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Division III Mount Union. Then general manager Gene Smith, was extremely notorious for drafting small school guys and hoping for them to be gems. Most of the time, these players would end up being cut by the team in less than a couple of seasons.
However, with Shorts, that was not the case. Shorts became one of the Jaguars main receivers during his last 3 seasons with the team.
Shorts totaled 174 receptions, 2,313 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns from 2012 through 2014.
In his breakout 2012 season, Shorts became the first Jaguars receiver to have more than 975 receiving yards since the great Jimmy Smith had in 2005.
Shorts ended with a total of 979 receiving yards, and while that may not be a 1,000 yard season, the fact that he gained this yardage in 12 games (missed 3 games to concussion, healthy scratch in Week 2) speaks a lot about how efficient and productive Shorts was in this season.
Furthermore, Shorts was able to generate this yardage with only 55 receptions, that is an average of 17.8 yards per catch (2nd in the NFL in 2012). He also led the entire NFL with an average of 8.5 YAC per catch.
After the 2012 season, Shorts was a main part of the passing game for the Jaguars until the end of his rookie contract.
The highlight of his career definitely was when he caught the game winning touchdown from Chad Henne in a 2013 showdown against his hometown Cleveland Browns. Not only was it the game winner in his hometown, but it was caught over one of the best cornerbacks at the time in Joe Haden. You can watch that beautiful moment below.
Also, some people may have forgotten, but he was the recipient of the first ever touchdown thrown by now former Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles back in 2014. The first one to catch greatness from the BOAT!
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— Florida Times-Union (@jaxdotcom) September 21, 2014
Shorts went on to play 2 more seasons with the Houston Texans, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (one a piece). He hasn’t played since 2016.
Justin Blackmon is a little more known than Shorts because of his pedigree. A standout at Oklahoma State, Blackmon was drafted with the 5th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Blackmon went on to have a good season alongside Cecil Shorts. Blackmon led the team with 64 catches, and gained 865 yards, and 5 touchdowns in his 2012 rookie season.
This included an overtime showdown against the 2012 AFC South Champion Houston Texans in which Blackmon gained 236 yards on ONLY 7 catches (Shorts had 3 catches for 81 yards, including a 67 yard touchdown catch). This is good for 2nd most in team history (behind Jimmy Smith) and it’s the third most by a rookie receiver EVER.
This performance by Blackmon was a bit overshadowed by the performance of the oppoossing receiver in Andre Johnson, who actually somehow had more yards than Blackmon with 273 yards with 14 catches.
Nonetheless, Blackmon had himself one of the best games in team history with Chad Henne at quarterback, and many tend to forget that.
(And for the record, this wasn’t a typical 2012 Jaguars-style game in which the Jaguars got blown out. The Jaguars led in this game for a long time and unfortunately lost in overtime to a very good Texans team. Blackmon showed the entire NFL that not only did he belong in the league, but he could absolutely dominate the league and be one of the best in the entire NFL.)
Justin Blackmon finishes with 7 catches for 236 yards, 2nd-most yards in team history. #Jaguars
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) November 18, 2012
The next season in 2013, after serving a 4 game suspension, Blackmon established himself as a top 5 receiver in the league. Well, at least for the last 4 games he was able to play.
In the 4 games he played in the 2013 season, Blackmon wrecked havoc, totaling 29 catches, for 415 yards, with 1 touchdown. This includes a 14 catch, 190 yard performance against the the top ranked Denver Broncos defense.
Sadly, as we all know, those 4 games in 2013 were his last of his career, and we have not heard from him since.
Justin Blackmon was suspended indefinitely by the league in Week 9 of the 2013 NFL Season and was never able to come back to the Jaguars. Cecil Shorts entered free agency after his last season of his rookie contract with the Jaguars in 2014.
The duo was together for a very short period of time and not many will think twice of what this pair could have done, had they stayed together longer.
They played together on a pretty bad Jaguars team, and this could be why so many choose to forget them. But the potential this duo had was real. This duo was the only glimmer of hope in a very dark time for the Jaguars.
Just like many things with the Jaguars though, it just didn’t work out.