The Jacksonville Jaguars desperately need to get more big plays if they want to become competitive in the latter half of the 2016 NFL season.
When looking at passing plays of 20 or more yards, the Jacksonville Jaguars are 21st in the NFL (26 such plays). This, after being the best team in the NFL in the same statistic in 2015 (72 such plays).
Through Week 10 in 2015, the Jags had 40 of those plays (third in the NFL). Compared to just 26 this season, it’s clear that the team hasn’t been able to stretch the field like they used to.
Some of this can be attributed to drops, some of it to bad throws, but very few of them appear to be due to the wide receivers’ inabilities to get open. There have certainly been opportunities to go deep, but the Jags keep missing.
This was highlighted by Jaguars senior writer John Oehser this week, saying:
"…the team’s wide receivers have had opportunities for big plays in recent weeks. At least one has been dropped. Another couple resulted in completions or pass interference penalties. But Bortles has missed too many deep passes. Big plays win games in the NFL. Bortles must hit them when they’re there – at least more than has been the case in recent weeks."
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This is absolutely true. The opportunities are there and, especially since Nathaniel Hackett took over at offensive coordinator, they seem to be more frequent. The offense just can’t hit on them and get into that impressive rhythm from 2015 that made these types of plays look easy.
Without the big play threat the Jags passing attack has struggled to be effective. Without the big play threat the running game has struggled. Defenses don’t have to be overly concerned about Blake Bortles and his receivers connecting because it seldom happens.
If the Jags want to actually contend going forward, they’ll have to connect on more big plays. It’s easier said than done, certainly, but it is a glaring example of regression for this offense.