Can the Jaguars improve offensively with a power run game that needs to get better as well?
The Jaguars are looking to improve their performance in 2020. If they continue to the power run game, the head coach, the offensive coordinator and the general manager must work together.
The plan since the moment the Jaguars announced Tom Coughlin had become the team’s executive vice-president of football operations has been to run the football to set up the pass. In the first season Coughlin, Doug Marrone and David Caldwell designed a team that built with a run-first mentality that worked with Leonard Fournette running the football.
Prior to 2017, the team had not been considered a power running team. As Chris Brown of insidethepylon.com, a running game like this is only effective if the offensive line can establish dominance off the snap.
“Executing the power run hinges on the offensive line walling off the defensive front with double teams and down blocks,” Brown writes. “The backside guard then pulls to the playside and becomes the lead blocker. The outside contain player on the run side is typically left unblocked by the offensive line and is accounted for by a fullback, or is read by the quarterback, depending upon the style of offense.”
As in any situation, this can be adapted to the personnel on the field, but the key to success is physicality and attitude of the offensive line. Another critical component is a blocking fullback or H-back because a power run game has two lead blockers; the fullback and one of the offensive guards.
The assumption is that Marrone’s offensive preference for the Jaguars is a power run offense, but the Jaguars rarely employed a blocking tight end or H-back and the team cut their fullback.
It should also be explained that the tight end was supposed to be a big part of the running game, with the position being used in multiple sets by offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, but injuries took a huge toll on the game plan and scheme this past season.
The Jaguars ranked 17th this past season in rushing yards per game with 106.8. The Tennessee Titans, considered by many as an excellent power run offense, ranked second with 144.1 rushing yards per contest. At the beginning of the season, the Jaguars were believed to have one of the worst running back units in the league.
The general manager must do a better job of bringing in player who will fit the offensive scheme in 2020 – even if it remains the same from 2019.
Looking at the offense right now, the quarterbacks on the roster – Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles – should have no difficulty with this scheme. The running back group needs to be upgraded this offseason in free agency and/or through the NFL Draft. Because Fournette became such a big part of the passing game, leading the team with 76 receptions, the Jaguars should keep him beyond the final year of his rookie deal.
Also, Fournette’s ability to block was a big improvement in 2019. I still believe the offense needs a fullback as a full-time component to the game plan.
As an example, the San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings both utilize a fullback to enhance their successful running games. Another more athletic pass catching tight end for the middle of the field is needed as well. It can’t be said enough that the lack of blocking was a huge reason for the poor showing on offense by the Jaguars in 2018 and 2019.
Another critical need is improvement at left tackle and both guard positions on the offensive line.
Caldwell must make the right calls, adding an athletic offensive guard, a monster offensive tackle, a speedy running back, a fullback or a blocking tight end and a pass catching tight end. It’s a long shopping list this offseason. It’s unreasonable to hope that all of this can be done in one year but if a power run game is what the coaching staff wants then these are the players that must be found.
As a final word, DeFilippo must design an offense that works with both the players of today and function with this team in the future.