Black and Teal editor Luke Sims painstakingly pored through the Jaguars’ receivers over the last few years and I’m sure there were a couple readers who could barely hold back tears as they read it.
Nobody who watched the team in 2011 would disagree that a lack of talent at wide receiver was a significant reason the Jaguars could not move the ball down the field consistently last season. But who else was to blame for the historically anemic pass offense? Find out after the jump.
There are really two perspectives necessary to break down how the Jaguars ended up with the 32nd ranked passing attack last year: macroscopic and microscopic.
Struggling Rookie Quarterback+Bad Receivers +Underachieving tight end = 136.2 yards/game.
Wait, so the two positions that are most involved in the passing game are to blame? No way…
In this case, figuring out why the Jaguars couldn’t connect on a lot of passes doesn’t take a lot of research. And since not doing research is what the national media does best, every broadcaster/analyst with a keyboard or microphone harped on one thing: Blaine’s lack of pocket presence.
We have an entire offseason to discuss Blaine so we’ll leave that topic for later. But the reality is that the combination of the quarterback and receivers could not produce for one reason or another.
But was it really just a lack of talent that created the worst passing offense in the NFL? The Rams had a similar array of talent at wide receiver and averaged almost 45 more yards/game through the air. The Redskins’ offense was spearheaded by the likes of Rex Grossman and Jabar Gaffney, and they averaged almost 100 yards/game more. The Jaguars had an almost identical group of skill players in 2010, and they averaged over 50 yards/game more passing. Was David Garrard really that much better than Blaine Gabbert?
New Quarterback + Short offseason + Old Scheme = Sad Jaguar Fans.
The answer to the previous question is yes – David was much better than Blaine in 2010. With that said, Blaine was thrown into a tough spot as a rookie after the Jaguars released Garrard before the start of the season. Even though Luke McCown became the starter, Blaine taking over was inevitable. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the week before the season opener doesn’t provide enough time to install a new offense.
Now the old adage is “players not plays,” but in this case I believe the scheme was geared too much towards Garrard’s weaknesses for Blaine to come in and immediately be effective. If you read any scouting report on Garrard, one thing that always comes up is his lack of anticipation. He wasn’t an anticipation thrower – he needed to see a receiver open before he threw the ball. Seeing this as a limitation, Dirk Koetter constructed an offense that featured David’s strength and ability to extend the pocket, while masking his inability to lead receivers through their routes.
When Gene drafted Blaine, he saw a completely different player. He was watching a quarterback who could stand in the pocket, anticipate receivers coming open, and make every NFL throw. But with no offseason and poor coaching, Blaine was forced to try and take the skills and instincts he had honed in a spread offense in college to a completely different scheme in the NFL. In addition to having better talent around them, this is why Andy Dalton and Cam Newton were so successful their rookie years compared to Blaine – better coaching coupled with a more friendly scheme.
The good news for Jaguar fans is that there are a lot of new things approaching on the horizon: a new coach, a new scheme, and a revamped receiving core. If Blaine can make some strides in 2012, we might be able to forget just how ineffective the offense was in 2011.