I'm sure a lot of you are going to expect a critique of Blaine Gabbert or Laurent Robinson. Others will want to see me praise those players, or state the obvious fact that the Jags have a top 5 backfield (given everybody is healthy). I'm not going to do either of those things.
My view of a well designed offense is one that plays to the strengths of the roster. I have no opinion on whether run first or pass first is more effective. Taking the 49ers and the Packers as examples, you can have a great offense that focuses on either one. What I'm going to do is look at what I think of the design of the Jaguars offense so far in 2012 (which, admittedly, is only one meaningful game and the preseason).
It all starts with Gabbert. We all know this. What are his strengths and how do they compare with what we have on the roster?
I can say 100% that Gabbert has improved his passing. In terms of arm strength and accuracy he'll probably be in in the top half of the league by the end of the year. Still, throughout yesterday's game I found myself questioning a lot of the plays. Sometimes it was "why did Gabbert throw to that guy vs. another guy," but more often it was "why doesn't this look like... I dunno, a normal offense." Because it doesn't. It looks weird.
We run 3 back sets with 2 TEs instead of our beast FBs.
We run bunch spread formations when we can't trust our O-line.
We use receivers in the backfield and keep receivers close to the line even tho we have a QB with the arm strength to hit on outside passes.
It's an offense made up of mostly quick read passes, but you can't throw quick passes all game, because if you try, people will figure your offense out.
So to answer a question posed in Brandon Clark's article, do I trust Blaine Gabbert, I have to say "not quite".
I don't fully trust Gabbert, but it's not because he's not improved. He is. It's a combination of things. It's partially that I don't really trust this offensive scheme. It's that I'm not sure I could trust a system that throws predominantly quick passes with any QB. And it's that putting a QB who likes to play safe in a system that is already very safe can turn a Matt Cassel (which is the level I think Gabbert's at now) into a Trent Edwards (Captain Checkdown). I don't want to see Gabbert go that way. I want to see him use his arm. Spread defenses long-ways not sideways. And he could do that. It'll just take some changes.
So here's what I'd like if I could have my way: I'd like to see us run an offense more like the Steelers. More traditional. We can use shotgun, but I want to see more late developing route combinations. And for those who say we don't have a good enough O-line... Tell that to Ben "Punching Bag" Roethlisberger, who's had one of the worst offensive lines protecting him for the last 4 or so years.
I believe that we have the talent now at receiver. Blackmon is a great slot/possession guy, Shorts made some very nice catches as an outside receiver, and Robinson even started to show his worth, catching the 25 yard deep ball Gabbert put in just the right spot between a dropping corner and a cover 2 safety.
If we can use Gabbert's arm right, we won't need 11, 17, or 22 play drives. So why is that the gameplan? Is the coaching staff afraid to open up the field to Gabbert? It this to help him feel more comfortable in the pocket? Do the coaches think we lack the talent to attack teams head on?
That's what I want to know as the season progresses.