Jacksonville Jaguars Need to Try Something New in the Running Game
The Jacksonville Jaguars have played much better on offense and defense over the last 2 weeks outside of one area – the running game. While the insertion of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles into the lineup has helped the team on both sides of the ball, the rushing attack has remained underwhelming.
Through 5 weeks of the regular season, here are some of the rushing totals.
[table id=34 /]
Free agent Toby Gerhart was brought in to be the bell cow back after sitting behind Adrian Peterson for the last few years, but Gerhart has thus far not shown anything to justify the three-year deal worth $10.5 million he signed this past offseason. He’s been slow to the line of scrimmage, and tape review has shown he consistently makes poor decisions on which gaps to take in order to gain the most possible yards. He’s slowly being given less and less carries, so don’t be surprised if he’s used quite sparingly at the end of the season.
Denard Robinson has flashed a little bit, but he still leaves a lot to be desired as far as ball carrier vision. He’s not quite as decisive as a natural running back in deciding what to do behind the line of scrimmage, but he clearly can be dangerous once he gets past the first level. With time he should get better as a natural runner, but the Jaguars need to find more creative ways to get him the ball in space.
Jordan Todman has looked very fast when he gets the ball, but I’m attributing that almost entirely to how slow Gerhart looks when he’s the lead back. Todman is a serviceable third down back, but he’s not a guy you can count on to get a bulk of the carries.
Storm Johnson finally got his first playing time in week 5, and he looked significantly better than any of the other backs in his limited snaps. Johnson didn’t really do anything special, he just did what good running backs do. He made the right cuts to get through the holes provided by the offensive line and he gained yards. It’s not complicated, but Johnson is the only guy on the roster who has come on the field and looked like a natural, decisive running back.
Clearly the Jaguars need to something different at the running back position, and the numbers above indicate a fairly simple decision. Start shifting more of the snaps in the direction of Storm Johnson and see what the young guy can do. If Jedd Fisch wants to try and narrow down the bulk of workload to only two running backs, then it’s hard to see Gerhart getting in the mix. We’ll see, but the Jaguars definitely need to shake things up in the backfield.