The Jaguars must keep the “run-first” mentality as its calling card
By David Levin
Because of a lack of production on offense and a passing game that has been nonexistent, the Jacksonville Jaguars must remain a run-first football team.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are in jeopardy of doing something they did back in 2016 – lose double-digit football games. Fans may have thought this team was past all that, on the rise and ready to forge their own streak of wins and playoff berths. Instead, it seems like the franchise is back to its old ways.
This is a team that must try to put together some kind of continuity for the three remaining games on the schedule.
"“The biggest thing is finishing strong,” defensive end Calais Campbell said via Jaguars.com."
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That means a tough defense must find a way to rebound from the 30-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans and the running game must lead the way on the other side of the ball.
While Cody Kessler shows moxie and tries to make things happen with the passing game, little improvement other than Dede Westbrook in the receiving corps leads no one to believe Jacksonville will suddenly become the New Orleans Saints of the passing game.
What that means is Leonard Fournette must take a page out of the game against Buffalo and run hard and effectively between the tackles. Most of all, he must score when given the opportunity. The Jaguars had those opportunities last Thursday night. Four chances from the 1-yard line and they pulled a Toby Gerhart on the effort.
The result was the Titans starting at their own 1 and Derrick Henry takes the ball on a handoff on the next play and marches 99 yards for a touchdown.
Game changer. Game over. Nothing the Jaguars could do to stop the Titans rushing attack.
This week, the shoe could be on the other foot as Fournette and company would like to establish their own running game against the Washington Redskins. It’s the final home game of the season for the Black and Teal.
The run-first philosophy should remain the Jaguars calling card, regardless of who the offensive coordinator is in 2019. Unless the team spends money on a big-name signal caller in the offseason, Fournette remains the team’s best player on that side of the ball.
"“The 2017 Jaguars led the NFL in rushing, had one of the league’s top defenses, and got by with an efficient quarterback who cut down on his turnovers,” writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. “That formula got the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game and they were 10 minutes — or, as [Tom] Coughlin likes to say, an inadvertent whistle — from reaching Super Bowl LII.”"
The Jaguars run game has been abused by the lack of a consistent offensive line much like the passing game. Fournette had shown signs of reverting back to 2017 when his presence in the lineup forced teams to play the run more than the pass. But last week, the Titans loaded the box and forced the Jaguars to run until they had to pass because of the score of the game.
"“Our formula a year ago was play great defense, run the ball and do a superb job of play-action pass,” Coughlin said in a recent interview on a Jacksonville radio station during a fund-raising event for The Jay Fund, DiRocco writes. “Obviously, I still believe in that very much.”"
And it’s a belief that should carry on as long as he is part of this organization.
The Jaguars have three games remaining on the schedule and show no signs of changing what should have worked all along. It is not a matter of proving other teams wrong. It’s a matter of making the necessary changes to their game plan to make sure the running game remains the staple of this offense.