We’ve talked a lot about the change to the Jaguars offensive scheme since the hirings of Head Coach Mike Mularkey and Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski. The offense will still run through Maurice Jones-Drew (as it should) due to the talent at run blocking and the special skill of MJD. But no longer will Pocket Hercules be facing eight and nine man fronts due to the increased depth and skill at the wide receiver position and expected development of quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
And what if the opponent does stack the box against the running game?
Bratkowski’s got a thing for that too.
According to the latest reports out of OTAs, the Jaguars will be running offensive packages and schemes designed to exploit weaknesses of the opposition. While this may sound like common sense, when the defense is used to keying into the things you do most, it often helps to alter the game plan to focus on scheming against the defense rather than simply scheming to the Jaguars strengths.
Last year, the Jaguars avoided their main liability: the passing game. MJD was given carry after carry. Deji Karim was even fed the ball rather than trusting Gabbert to air it out. With Bratkowski, it will be a little different.
While the running game will still remain a priority, the most crucial parts of the offense that will provide big-play-ability will be mismatches that can be exploited. And it will be up to Blaine Gabbert to take advantage of those.
Some of those exploitations will flow through the wide receivers where the Jags are no longer as undersized as they once were and have far greater talent at the position. But expect a lot of those mistmatches to come through the tight end position. With Marcedes Lewis’ huge frame and strong density, he presents a mismatch against any linebacker trying to keep up with him and any nickel back who thinks they can tackle him.
It will be up to Gabbert to make the plays to get the ball out to the tight end however.
The failures of Lewis last year are many and well documented. Whether it was dropping a touchdown that hit him in the hands or missing a first down, Lewis had struggles that were difficult to ignore. Gabbert and the tight ends, especially Lewis, will have to develop greater chemistry if they wish to succeed in the coming year.
The offense is about halfway installed according to the coaches and players. From what they’ve seen, they’re excited to give the approach a go. But the complexity could take some more time to get used to than the players may anticipate – so says Lee Evans.
It’s a good thing Gabbert and Co. have a full offseason this year.
- Luke N. Sims