The Jacksonville Jaguars rushing attack was supposed to be a dominant two-headed beast, but through five games it’s looked more like a confused monstrosity.
After an impressive rookie season that saw workhorse running back T.J. Yeldon gain 740 yards in 12 games while averaging over four yards per carry it finally seemed like the running game may be fixed.
Then general manager Dave Caldwell meddled with it in the offseason. He added free agent 2016 Pro Bowl running back Chris Ivory to the mix. His 1070 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging over four yards per carry made it seem like the Jags rushing attack would be even better.
Combined, Ivory and Yeldon were supposed to be a dominant duo. They were supposed to be a one-two punch that could take on any defense on any Sunday.
Instead, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been treated to yet another iteration of poor running. Chris Ivory is averaging 2.4 yards per carry (easily a career low) and has hardly seen the field due to injury. T.J. Yeldon is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry and is easily bottled up after being one of the best tackle-breaking running backs in 2015 (Ivory was even better).
For whatever reason – ranging from play calling to the offensive line to the two backs – the running game is stalled (again). Quarterback Blake Bortles has the second-most rushing yards on the team (90), which is never great unless your name is Cam Newton.
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Jags senior writer John Oehser discussed this after the game as well. Head coach Gus Bradley has apparently cited speed and urgency as the contributing factors for the Jags, writes Oehser, “Bradley said while there were issues with execution and technique most of the issue stemmed from a lack of speed and urgency.”
That same speed and urgency has clearly helped the Jaguars before. The team looks considerably better when Bortles is leading the offense in the no huddle or in crunch time. When the offense picks up its pace it seems the Jags are able to outplay the defense both at the line of scrimmage and when dropping back to pass or handing it off.
But speed and urgency isn’t just about the pace of the plays; it’s also about how the team gets off the ball at the snap and pushes forward. The Jags need to win the early battles at the start of every snap, open up holes, hit the holes hard, and execute.
Whether Bradley has actually found the secret formula for success or not remains to be seen. He’ll have to execute that urgency in a game situation for Jags fans to put their fears to rest.
For now, though, the fact of the matter is that the Jacksonville Jaguars rushing offense is 31st in the NFL in total yards and 29th in attempts. That’s the opposite of productive and they desperately need to jumpstart that half of the offense or risk becoming one dimensional.