Jacksonville Jaguars: Can a run-first team be successful in a pass-happy NFL?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27: Leonard Fournette of LSU reacts after being picked
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 27: Leonard Fournette of LSU reacts after being picked /

It’s no secret that the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to run the ball more with Leonard Fournette. But will it disrupt the pass-first NFL?

The Jacksonville Jaguars are emphasizing the running game in training camp according to Mark Long of the Associated Press. The question is, can a running team win in a pass dominated NFL?

Coach Marrone is centered on a run-first offense. There are three reasons that this may not be successful. First, the NFL made numerous rule changes during the past few years to promote a pass dominated league. Next, the most successful teams are built around franchise quarterbacks. Finally, fans expect a high scoring shoot out.


The NFL changed the rules during recent years. The quarterback is afforded much more protection and in many cases can hardly be touched. There are many roughing the passer penalties called and it has been a trend recognized for the better part of a decade. Wide receivers are protected by rules concerning hitting defenseless pass catchers.

These rules are to protect players but make it difficult for defensive players who must always be aware of them even when at full speed. It makes passing more appealing when yards can be picked up in big chunks and as teams look to keep the defense on its heels.


A quick look at each division tells the story. The top teams were: The New England Patriots with Tom Brady, Pittsburgh Steelers with Ben Rothlesburger, Dallas Cowboys with Dak Prescott, Seattle Seahawks with Russell Wilson, Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rogers, and Atlanta Falcons with Matt Ryan. This is a who’s who of top quarterbacks.

The worst teams were those without a franchise quarterback. The New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Chicago Bears. Each of these teams had quarterback issues. To be fair and unbiased, there were some exceptions. The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs both won their divisions without a star quarterback and the Cleveland Panthers and San Diego Chargers had poor seasons with franchise quarterbacks.

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Fan expectation are not the same as back in the day. Fans prefer a high scoring game with exciting offensive plays. The NFL is driven by television revenue. Fans tend to change the channel when games become slow moving and “boring.” The television stations will televise the teams that provide high ratings.


There are many doubts. First, the rules promote a passing team and have made it easier for teams to turn to the pass as the primary way to move the ball. Second, the league is driven by star quarterbacks. They produce wins and enhance the popularity of the team. Also, fans expect an exciting game. The Jaguars are a team in need of a larger fan base. They need to be on television to generate interest in the team. This philosophy may not be the answer.