Last Sunday, the Jags had a solid outing against a mediocre team, the Tennessee Titans. Luke McCown looked sharp and poised, the play calling was quietly conservative, and the running game eased its way into the regular season with a good performance. But will that work in the future? McCown averaged a mere 7.3 yards per attempt (175 yards, 24 attempts). Will this cut it for the Jaguars through the season? Follow the jump to find out more.
Against Tennessee, the Jags were able to generate a good ground game with the constant threat that is Maurice Jones-Drew (97 yards, 1 touchdown) and the shifty Deji Karim (33 yards). Luke McCown undoubtedly was relaxed by this and appeared solid. But he only had to throw the ball 24 times. When looking at the defense of the Titans, it makes sense that the Jags would be able to get away with this. But against a team like the Jets (This Sunday) it seems far less likely that the running game will be as effective against their defense. So the Jags will have to rely on the passing game a bit more to move the chains. With Darelle Revis and co holding down the backend of the Jets defense, it could become far more difficult to appear solid.
So, what can Luke McCown and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter do? McCown threw for seven yards per attempt which shows that the play calling may be conservative, but it also shows that keeping the passing game short can be used as a substitute for some of the running game if it doesn’t take off. If a running back gains seven yards on a first down, the team will be pretty well set for a strike downfield on second down and a much more manageable third down if it comes to it. If McCown is able to work his passing game into an extension of the running game (much like the Packers do), the Jags could very easily not lose offensive production.
Do I anticipate Luke McCown to not throw a pick? No, that would be ridiculous. Do I expect him to try to pull a Tony Romo? That is even more ludicrous. If the fans thought the play calling in the Tennessee game was conservative, then this game should be even more so. Luke McCown is not Drew Brees and shouldn’t play like it. If dinking and dunking to wide receivers and tight ends, or even the tailbacks, get the Jags to be competitive and just maybe come home with the W, then its worth it. Seven yards per attempt is not elite level production. But that’s not what we should be looking for (even if McCown showed flashes of brilliance last week).
Look for McCown to get around 55 percent of his passes complete (can’t underestimate that New York Secondary), gain around two hundred yards (I’m generously anticipating around 240 on the high end), throw a pick, and get one touchdown. Anything more than this is unfairly hoping for too much from a squad that has hardly settled into the regular season.
But let’s be happy we don’t have Tony Romo at the healm.
– Luke N. Sims