Weaving a Winning Strategy: Dirk Koetter's Masterpieces

JACKSONVILLE FL - NOVEMBER 14: Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs the ball during a game against the Houston Texans at EverBank Field on November 14 2010 in Jacksonville Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Dirk Koetter came to Jacksonville from Arizona State University, where he directed the schools all-time leading passer and WR. He was expected to bring that same high-powered passing attack to Jacksonville, however, the personnel have forced Dirk to adapt and become a run-first coordinator. Many people thought we'd see some new wrinkles with the exit of tenured assistants, Kennedy Pola, and Mike Tice, both of whom loved the power game. This year has shown that Dirk is an excellent offensive coordinator who will develop a game plan around his players, and not try to force his players to fit his scheme.

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The Jaguars continued to use the "heavy" formation with Jordan Black at TE until Eben's unfortunate injury, we remain a running team, and we continue to operate out of the I-Formation much of the time. Old-school power football that dictates the pace, personnel, and play-calling of the opponent is what being a Jacksonville Jaguar is all about. The inventive ways Dirk is finding to run the ball, coupled with the exceptional blocking of Greg Jones and the offensive line, are foiling the plans of opposing defenses who expect to stop the run and force David to beat them.


Thomas the RB: Nine defenders in the box doesn't seem to concern Dirk, he has figured out how to hold one those defenders on the outside through a common misdirection we see weekly now. The Jaguars line up in the I-Formation, and when the ball is snapped, Mike Thomas comes toward David for the "end-around" run while MJD heads forward. David either gives to MJD and fakes to Thomas, or he fakes to MJD and hands off to Thomas. This one wrinkle which has become a staple of the running game has successfully and consistently improved the team's success running against a stacked box.

David the RB: Dirk has taken the reins off of David as of late, and the QB is encouraged to scramble and even has his number called quite a bit on running plays. The option has always been a main-stay of collegiate football, but is rarely seen on Sundays. Dirk has changed that, and now the threat of David running to the outside with the option to lateral to MJD is something teams' must prepare for. No longer are we seeing third or fourth and inches calls that aren't QB sneaks. David's number is now regularly called as the Jaguars' go-to guy when we need less than a yard. I love this type of call because it minimizes the chances for penetration and a tackle for loss. Just lean forward and get the first.

Sunday against the Texans, Dirk showed why he's been so successful. With the running game carrying the load and the Texans stacking 9 in the box, Dirk resisted the urge to throw the ball against a depleted secondary, and chose to first make the Texans stop the run. Rather than attack the opponent's weakness, Dirk stuck to the Jaguars' strength. What ensued was a 9 play, 52 yard TD drive that was ALL RUNS. Talk about setting the tone.

Hats off to Dirk for calling a great season so far.

-Collin Streetman

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