2. Lean on Travis Etienne, stick to the run even if it isn't working early on
Head coach Doug Pederson has routinely favored throwing the ball, even when running seems like a better alternative. This year though, the Jaguars have had trouble establishing their ground attack, so there have been several instances in which they don't even attempt to run it. That makes sense to a certain extent. Why call a play that will result in no gain or negative yardage?
The main reason is that the offensive line cannot open holes and the worst part is that there's not much the team can do from a personnel standpoint right now. They'll need to wait until the offseason to make upgrades. That said. The coaching staff needs to look for ways to scheme Etienne in the game plan for the finale.
Etienne wasted no time taking advantage of a favorable matchup against an ailing Panthers defensive front, toting the rock 16 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns. It turned out to be his most productive game of the season. While Carolina is by no means a defensive juggernaut, the Jaguars insistence in running the ball paid off. The Titans rank 14th in the league in rushing yards allowed, so racking up yards on the ground won't come off as easy. That shouldn't deter Jacksonville from trying to get the running going.
The fact that left tackle Cam Robinson is back in the fold and Ezra Cleveland and Walker Little are getting healthier should help them establish the run. As offensive coordinator Press Taylor noted when he met with the local media Thursday, Travis Etienne will eventually break off a big run if he's given enough chances.
"It was a game we were able to stick with the run," Taylor said. "We continued to try to pound it, pound it, pound it, and it broke open. And that's kind of the way the run game has gone for us. Back early in the year, there were a couple of games like that, Buffalo, Indy, a couple of those where we were just trying to hammer some runs, and eventually, Travis breaks one and provides a big spark for us to get us over the hump in terms of the run game within a game. Something certainly we expect, we're capable of, we're excited whenever we see it."