Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson has struggled to replicate his 2015 success with quarterback Blake Bortles and the Jags offense, but could find a solution with the no-huddle.
John Oehser, senior writer for the Jacksonville Jaguars, noted a revealing “quotable” moment from Jags offensive coordinator Greg Olson in his “Day that Was” article on the 20th.
Olson was talking about the up-tempo, no-huddle offense that the team used to finally get a rhythm going in the Week 6 victory over the Chicago Bears. It finally turned the team around for a big-time fourth quarter victory.
Before the Jags transitioned to the faster-paced offense they had zero points on the board. In the end, they finished with 17, marking the most impressive quarter of offensive football the team has produced in ages.
Here’s what Olson had to say:
"We always practice it. It’s part of – we do it in practice. We’ve gone in and out of it during the season – never to that extent or that early in the game [as they did against Chicago late in the third quarter Sunday]. … We just felt like it was a changeup that was needed to try to jumpstart us. Certainly it paid off."
What is concerning here is that the Jaguars have clearly been better throughout the season when playing faster and Olson doesn’t quite buy into it. The eye test shows a team that looks and feels more confident and more dangerous as they work to exploit defenses.
With Blake Bortles on the move and defenses on the ropes, the Jags are able to play to their strengths and not give the opposition the chance to set up adequately against them. By keeping the defense on their heels, the Jags can dictate the game rather than being forced to conform to the defense’s will.
So it’s surprising to see Olson talk about never going to an up-tempo, no-huddle offense earlier in a game. For the Jaguars, who have struggled to start fast, it would make far more sense to bring in the more effective strategy early and test the defense often rather than waiting for the dire straits that often come later in games for the Jags.
Multiple times this season the Jacksonville Jaguars have failed to score in the opening quarter (three times) or opening half (twice), and have had two games when they didn’t score in the first three quarters. There is no excuse for repeatedly trying something that hasn’t been effective. Olson should make the change to a quicker, more effective offense earlier rather than waiting until the Jags are, once again, in a hole.
That jumpstart Olson highlights is exactly what the Jags need in every game. The offense hasn’t been good enough to build momentum without manufacturing some new way to keep the defense on its heels. This has most effectively come through the no-huddle, up-tempo offense.
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Taking on the Oakland Raiders in Week 7, the Jacksonville Jaguars would be wise to turn to the no-huddle early. Jack Del Rio, the head coach of the Raiders, is a known defensive force and has had more success in that capacity with more teams than Jags head coach Gus Bradley could dream of. He will adapt and force the Jags offense to bend to his defense’s will if the Jags aren’t inventive and take the fight to them early.
Can Olson actually do it? Will he stall out at yet another NFL team like his record suggests?
While it is concerning he’s just now noticing the pattern of jumpstarting the Jags offense by playing fast, he has noticed. That’s a step in the right direction.
Olson would be wise to learn his lesson and put it in practice early against the Raiders.