Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

A Brand New Offense?


The draft has come and gone. All of the major signings from free agency have passed. Rookie mini camps, OTAs, and training camp are up next. New ownership and the new coaching staff have been put into place. The 2012 season is around the corner and it will be opening day before you know it.

I was originally going to write about the new crop of rookies the Jaguars acquired last weekend, but I can’t help but to look ahead. Before I do that I’d like to take a look back.

In 2011, the Jags had a legit top 10 NFL defense. They also had the league’s leading rusher in Maurice Jones-Drew. Let’s not forget about Josh Scobee, one of the NFL’s best kickers. There were some gaps in 2011, however, and if you’re a Jags fan you know of these gaps I speak of. We scored 15.2 points a game, 29th in the league. We had 259.3 yards per game, and 136.2 passing yards per game. Both of these ranked dead last. I would like to commend Gene Smith and Shahid Khan for tackling this glaring hole in the team’s game and then filling them. Besides MJD our offense was just down right terrible last year, and even Jones-Drew wasn’t looking as explosive at times. That’s what happens when you have a one dimensional offense.

Regarding Blaine Gabbert, the jury is still out. I believe Michael Lombardi’s arguement against him has been well-documented. However, Gabbert was a top-10 pick in the 2011 draft, and I personally believe with more weapons Gabbert has the talent and the ability to win some games. His toughness has been questioned with good reason. But let’s be honest here, folks. During free agency and the draft, the front office has done everything in their power to get him some real wide receivers.

Mandatory Credit: James Lang-US PRESSWIRE

Let’s start with what we already had, which wasn’t much. Mike Thomas is a great slot receiver. He’s best when going across the middle, but last year he wasn’t being used properly. This year Blackmon and Robinson will draw plenty of double coverage, making Thomas more effective.

In free agency, the Jaguars acquired both Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans. In 2011, Robinson was a Dallas Cowboy and what a year he had. In 14 games, he snagged 54 balls for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. Lee Evans had a less than stellar season to put it nicely. I’m sure most of us remember him best in the 2011 AFC Championship against the Patriots, but take a look at his entire body of work. Yes, he is old. Yes, he does have some health concerns, but maybe…just maybe he returns to form in 2012 and can be that deep threat guy.

Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Many would argue that we paid Robinson way too much. He’s not a number one receiver right? Well thankfully we traded up to get the best wide receiver in the 2012 draft. Enter Justin Blackmon. He’s the type of receiver who affects the game, even when he’s not catching balls. He will demand double coverage allowing Robinson and Thomas to be more productive. He will open up the middle of the field. The second teams begin paying more attention to Robinson, they better look out…because they’re about to get burned.

A dynamic number one receiver who can beat coverage, and snag any ball in his vecinity. A number two who is good at getting open and finding the holes in zone. A slot receiver who excels at going across the middle. A savvy old vet who could possibly still have some gas left in the tank.

Mandatory Credit: Luc Leclerc-US PRESSWIRE

Now I could easily spit out Blackmon’s body of work at Oklahoma State. I could talk about his college career, his pro day, his pre-draft visit, but I will refrain from doing so. I’m not concerned about those things. I’m only looking ahead to the future now. We actually have a number one who demands attention. I cannot express how excited I am.

Add our bruising running game into the mix, and this could be a brand new offense. It’s all on Gabbert now. Does he have what it takes? We will find out soon enough.

-David R. Johns

 

Tags: Blaine Gabbert Featured Gene Smith Jacksonville Jaguars Josh Scobee Laurent Robinson Lee Evans Maurice Jones-drew Mike Thomas NFL Draft Popular Shahid Khan

  • Jason Love

    I voted a conditional B, because I know for certain that Blackmon will be at least a #2 WR. It will move up to an A if he cane become the Jaguars #1. 

  • Jason Love

    That was in regards to the poll. Woops, haha.

  • Jason Love

    You forget to add a Marcedes Lewis who hopefully has his ducks in a row and is fully focused. He’ll have spent the offseason trying to catch balls rather than trying to karate chop people. 
     
    Zach Miller should be healthy and if he stays that we he really does offer a nice weapon in the passing game. Anyone remember that TD last year that Gabbert hit him on down the center of the field. Great throw, great catch.
     
    Another aspect that you touch on is the running game. Jennings is back. Remember back two years when MJD was placed on IR and Jennings took over, he had two 100-yard games over the final three. He can catch out of the backfield too and he is a power runner. No more MJD running it 5-8 times on a drive, only to have Karim come in later and get negative yards, thus killing the drive. Jennings will help the drives continue. 
     
    Don’t forget about the offensive line either. This could be huge. Rackley will have a full year in an NFL system to get better. He was atrocious to start the season, but got better as the season progressed and I fully expect him to be good next year. Britton will also be back and I think he’ll come back with an energy we haven’t seen since his infamous draft day promise. 
     
    The biggest change? Gabbert. He’ll have a full offseason with 3 offensive coaches (Mularkey, Olson and Bratkowski). He will start the season as the #1 rather than the #3. The play book is build for his skill set.
     
    Everything should be better next year. If everyone hypothetically played at a 4 out of 10 last year, an improvement to a 5 or 6 out of 10 will mean massive changes in the outcomes of games. Just a 10% increase across the board will have the Jags winning games (so long as the D and special teams stay good.)
     
    Have hope Jag fans. This is going to be a much better season than you think. 

  • KeenanJ

    I don’t see Blackmon commanding double teams right out of the gate. If anybody will draw double coverage initially, it’ll be Robinson as he has shown that he can be productive against NFL level talent, as Blackmon will have to show and prove that first. Also, I think you’re being unreasonably harsh on the receivers from last year by not classifying them as ‘real receivers’. They were being used in a role they weren’t made for (as starters), when they’re better suited as role players. You touched on M80′s role in the slot and now that we have two starters in Robinson and Blackmon, another wideout that can rotate on the outside in Evans, I think we could expect more out of guys like Shorts and Dillard (if they make the team). Since they’ll both have more of a defined role and Blaine should improve, that should bode well for them to be more productive. Other than that, the topic of this article is an accurate one. We should very well expect to see a whole new offense this season.

  • Jason Love

     @KeenanJ I agree. A thing that pulls double teams is speed and the ability to run really crisp, clean routes. In other words, “separation”. Robinson has the speed to separate and by that virtue, like you said, he’ll probably draw the over the top safety to his side of the field on longer routes. 
     
    I fully envision Blackmon being a short to itermediate route guy. Nothing more the 20 yards honestly. He’ll be the YAC guy that the Jags wish that they had in Reggie Williams. 

  • KeenanJ

     @Jason Love
     I agree completely, as that’s the same role I see Blackmon having. I think as he begins to come into his own, teams will use linebackers and safeties to bracket him along with the coverage of a corner. But I’m having a hard time ever seeing him be that guy that forces a team to roll their entire coverage unit to his side of the field such as players like Megatron, Fitz and Andre Johnson.

  • Davjay1983

    Keenan, maybe I’m being a “victim of the moment” as Skip Bayless would put it. I certainly hope he can be that guy. Either way he’s going to bring a positive impact to our anemic passing offense.

  • Davjay1983

    And Jason, I’ve never been a big believer in Matt Ryan. If Mularkey can set up Ryan for success, then I’m a believer that Gabbert can flourish.

  • Jason Love

     @KeenanJ Sound reasoning. It could definitely happen. 

  • Jason Love

     @Davjay1983 Exactly. Ryan has less physical talent than Gabbert and more offensive minds around him dedicated to seeing him succeed. Really, if last year was a perfect storm of terrible, this year could well be the exact opposite. 

  • Jason Love

     @Davjay1983 Exactly. Ryan has less physical talent than Gabbert and Gabbert has more offensive minds around him dedicated to seeing him succeed. Really, if last year was a perfect storm of terrible, this year could well be the exact opposite. 

  • http://www.blackandteal.com/ LukeNSims

     @KeenanJ Definitely a fair analysis.  And Jason’s point on the 20 yard or less route running is probably spot on.  That said, he is a player that can effectively outplay his defender.  He has very good body control and great hands allowing him to make catches that may not be available to other players.
     
    If Blackmon demonstrates the ability to outplay the corner and linebacker that brackets him in the NFL, I’m betting money that the defense will start to put another man on him so he has to outplay two defenders.
     
    Robinson is definitely our separation man though and Blackmon really needs to prove he can do what he did in college in the pros.

  • http://www.blackandteal.com/ LukeNSims

     @Jason Love Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth?

  • tkopa

    I really believe coaching is a huge aspect fof the game.  Anyone who doubts the Jaguars better not put money on it.  New coaches, new players… watch out. This is a lethal combination. I really believe playoff contender is the bottom of the possibilities!

  • Davjay1983

    Quick turnaround in today’s NFL. Add in the fact that the AFC south is up for grabs, and yeah playlets could happen. The team has to do things a lot differently this year, but like you said…new players, new coaches. Stranger things have happened. I’d just like to eliminate the big blow outs (i.e. 2011 Atlanta, San Diego, NY Jets) and the end of game collapses (i.e. 2011 Cincinatti, Cleveland, Houston) for starters. Do I think the playoffs are possible? ANYTHING is possible in today’s NFL. The Lions were 0-16 not too long ago. As previously stated…quick NFL turnaround. Texans will be tough to deal with with or without a healthy Schaub (they won in Jacksonville with T.J. Yates last year). Colts are still in shambles regardless of Luck. Who knows how he will do? I see the Titans having a very mediocre season. But overall this team has to play with ferocity which I believe they can. Can’t say it enough, quick turnaround in today’s game.

  • Jason Love

     @LukeNSims Hahaha. I don’t think that’ll be the case. The coaches are professional and should understand that they should be teaching the same thing rather than divergent things. 

  • http://www.blackandteal.com/ LukeNSims

     @Jason Love I agree.  Mularkey has also made it known he won’t be interfering much with the hands-on coaching anyway.  

  • KeenanJ

     @LukeNSims  @Jason Love Nice analogy which brings into focus how they manage the seperate responsibilities associated with Blaine’s development such as his mechanics, the film study and making in-game adjustments. As long as Mularkey, Gradkowski and Olsen are preaching the same message to Blaine then there should be no drawbacks to his growth. It’s beneficial on multiples levels as not only does Blaine, but the entire offense as whole has a wealth of experienced to draw from. Starting at the top on down to their positional coaches at each position. tkopa’s comment above sums it quite nicely. It should be fun to watch.
     
    And excellent timing on the comment’s Jason and Luke as I was just touching on that myself.
     

  • http://www.blackandteal.com/ LukeNSims

     @Davjay1983 Unfortunately quick turnarounds don’t come to every team.  I’m optimistic about the Jags too, but what if we pull a Washington and sit in rebuilding mode for two decades?  What if no matter how good the Jags get, the rest of the AFC South gets better?
     
    There’s a lot of “What If” questions heading into the season.  We really don’t want to end up like the Rams, Redskins, Bills, Dolphins, or Raiders….perennially failing (with some occasional success) and never reaching their old potential.
     
    Not to be depressing, but what if we never get back to an AFC Championship game?

  • http://www.blackandteal.com/ LukeNSims

     @Davjay1983 I lied, I got depressing :)

  • http://www.blackandteal.com/ LukeNSims

     @KeenanJ  @Jason Love We aim to please!  So, any thoughts on Gaffney suddenly becoming available?  http://blackandteal.com/2012/05/01/jabar-gaffney-to-the-jags/

  • KeenanJ

     @LukeNSims I really do hope Blackmon becomes one of the dominant receivers in the league. With the improvements most of us believe Blaine will make, him and Blackmon could become one of the premiere passing combos in the league.
     

  • Jason Love

     @tkopa I agree. Cleaner execution last year could have gotten the Jags to about 8 wins. Carolina, Bengals, Cleveland. Gabbert at 60-65% completion % would get us to 8 wins this next year, even with the schedule. #1 rusher with Jennings back, healthy D, Scobee, weapon punter! Gabbert basically just has to be a game manager, but he has the physical talent to be much more than that!

  • Jason Love

     @LukeNSims  @Davjay1983 Made me depressed. I’d like to make the playoffs again =(. 

  • Jason Love

    Seriously though. Gabbert at 60% (would have been 18th for completion % last year) or greater should get the Jaguars to the playoffs. 

  • http://www.blackandteal.com/ LukeNSims

     @Jason Love If only he had done it his first season…