The Jaguars One-Dimension Offense: A History


Dave made a great point yesterday about the history of the Jaguars one-dimensional offense and how it has been consistently one-dimensional since well before Blaine Gabbert came to town.  Since the departure of Mark Brunell the Jaguars haven’t had a legitimate passing threat behind center.  Byron Leftwich was a project that never reached fruition, Quinn Gray was a backup forced to start a few games, David Garrard was a very, very good game manager, and the Luke McCown era was better in practice than it ever was in game.  With Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars have a man with an arm and decent legs.  He is also a man who is willing to take chances with his talent.  If he was left handed the comparisons to Brunell would quickly be made.

In order to keep this discussion more relevant to the modern Jaguars era, we will place an emphasis on the more recent years for the Jaguars rather than delving into the early days of the franchise.

yearPassing YardsPassing AttemptsPassing TDRushing YardsRushing AttemptsRushing TD201121794691219704899201030654692623955121420093356519152029447192008333253715177442617200733284692823915221820062882446172541513232005319048721195950218

The table showing the passing offense and the rushing offense over the last few years is pretty helpful in looking at the absolute lack of progress that was made under Jack Del Rio.  While the offense had some good seasons – oh the glory days of 2007 – there was no marked progress by the passing game, and the rushing offense wasn’t good enough to make the necessary contribution to win games consistently.

I like that the Jaguars hover around 2,000 yards of running in a season.  I think the amount shows a commitment to the run, which was one of the selling factors to me when I decided to start rooting for the Jags.  But the absolutely pedestrian numbers in the passing game shift the balance of the offense too far to the ground.  In the NFL a team is not necessarily balanced when the play calling is about 50/50.  For a team to eat up more yards and have a more effective offense, the play calling of a balanced offense seems to tend toward 60/40 in favor of the pass.  This is not necessarily true if you are the Saints, Packers, or Patriots.

The Jaguars have a tendency to lean heavy on the run, even when the passing offense is doing decently well.  In five of the seven years sampled, the Jags ran more run plays than they did passing plays.  A shift toward the pass occurred after the 2007 season when Garrard and Gray put up excellent numbers (28 touchdowns and 3rd most yards in our seven year sample).  The shift toward airing the bal out was not as effective as anticipated, however, and resulted in less offensive scoring despite gaining more yards.

The Jags have leaned run for a long time now.  It isn’t a bad strategy when the backfield is loaded with talent like Freddy T and MJD.  However, at some point an outside mind has to notice that the offense has been too reliant on the run and has grown stagnant over the most recent period of time.

That man appears to be Mike Mularkey and he is bringing a supporting cast with him in Bob Bratkowski and Jerry Sullivan that should help to reverse the Jaguars one-dimensional trend from recent years.  It isn’t that the team can’t throw the ball, it’s just that they aren’t as good as other teams.  Sure there needs to be better talent behind center, but sometimes an emphasis and increased repetition in games will lead to faster and stronger game-day development.

Some better receivers should help too.

– Luke N. Sims

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