JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser spent time this week with WR Marqise Lee, discussing three questions as the Jaguars prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday …
The topic: The past
The background:Lee, a second-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft from the University of Southern California, has emerged this season as one of the Jaguars' most effective offensive weapons – doing so after two seasons in which he struggled for playing time. Injury-plagued offseasons hurt his chances of getting into the lineup in 2014 and 2015, and he entered this season with the goal of staying healthy and letting his production take care of itself. The result: a career-high 57 receptions for 765 yards with three touchdowns receiving and a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown through 15 games. He also threw a 20-yard touchdown to quarterback Blake Bortles in a 38-17 victory over Tennessee this past Saturday.
The question:How did you get through the past two seasons, and how are you different this season than past seasons?
The quote:"I've got a great circle around me. I've got great friends who have constantly put in my head, 'Don't lose faith in yourself' and 'continue to believe in yourself.' [Former Southern California and current Jaguars linebacker] Hayes [Pullard III] is one of my closest friends from college. I get a chance to sit back and talk to him – along with [wide receivers] Allen [Hurns] and A-Rob [Allen Robinson]. We talk about situations. Hurns is a big fan of saying, 'Man, there's always a plan, so just keep moving forward and staying positive.' I always questioned that. The first year I wasn't playing, so it was, 'Why, why, why?' Now, I'm just letting it go with the flow. It's hard. I'm not going to say it's easy. It's hard to accept that – especially with a lot of things that go on – but you have to find a way to finally accept it. That's in all aspects of life. If you understand the business you're in, some of the things that come your way that you find as an issue you can finally accept because now you know it's the norm. It's rare that someone can come into the league and have no drastic problem in life or in football that they have to overcome. I feel like I learned it happens to everybody and it's how you react to it. If you find a way to zone in, turn it into something positive and keep it rolling … then look where I'm at now."
The topic:The present.
The background:Lee not only has had the best season of his three-year career, he said he's in the best place mentally of his career.
The question:In a sense, are you glad you went through what you went through? It seems to have changed you …
The quote:"I will never go back and say, 'I wish none of this happened,' because it helped me. How about if I had had a successful two years and I ran into a situation where I'm down this year, where I'm hurt? I feel like in all honesty I wouldn't know how to react to it and I'd probably be where I was my first year now. Now that I had the opportunity to do what I went through my first and second year … now, it's like, 'OK, these next couple of years or anytime it happens you'll never see me negative, head down or anything like that.' I'll always be positive and always come back strong."
The topic:The future
The question:What's next?
The quote:"I can do better. I'm eager to see next year. I can be better as a whole. I feel like there were a lot of opportunities we missed as a whole – as far as us as an offense, in all phases. For me in general, there are a lot of things I need to work on. I see things on film where I feel like I need to make sure my game is up to par. Once I get better in those areas I think I'll be just fine."