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Evolution of the Jaguars: Dirk Koetter, Gene Smith, and the rookie report

Change is Good:

Watching the Jaguars utter dismantling of the Titans was an absolute pleasure to see. But I have to tell you something about our beloved Jaguars... They've changed. Already this season, the Jaguars have thrown the ball considerably more than they usually do. Out of 253 total plays thus far, 145 have been pass plays... At this rate, the Jaguars will run approximately 160 more pass plays than run plays by the season's end. A staggering number indeed, but Dirk Koetter is beginning to fulfill the purpose he was brought here to. Balance the offense by providing a passing attack to go with our relentless rushing game.

Last year, with a horrific line and playing from behind often-times, the Jaguars still only passed 100 times more than they ran the ball. They also allowed 29 sacks over the season. Right now, the Jags are on pace to allow only 12 sacks (you read that right) all year, and that's with throwing more (in terms of percentage of plays called). Go back to 2007, you'll notice that year the Jaguars actually ran the ball 22 more times than they passed it over the season, but still allowed 37 sacks. What should really stick out to you in all these numbers is that the offensive line of the Jaguars has progressed immensely.

Add to that the fact we have our first true number one receiver in Mike Sims-Walker, and you have the makings of an explosive offense. Torry Holt and MSW are both averaging over 14 yards per reception, and MSW is on pace to be the first Jaguar receiver to break 1000 yards since Jimmy Smith.

Rookie's Impress:

The Jaguars rookie class may be the best in the NFL in terms of instant production through 4 games. We've got our two starting tackles of the future, we've got our starting NT to base a 3-4 around, we've got a corner who has the look of a game-changing defensive back, and we've got a star wide-out and return man in Mike Thomas. Gene Smith has totally revamped the roster, and done it so quickly that we may actually be a playoff contender this year. This is staggering.

Mike Thomas may be the best 4th rounder the Jaguars have drafted since Wilford. Thomas has infintiely more upside than Wilford ever did, and the only knock against him (his size) seems to work to his advantage, much like it does for the diminutive Jones-Drew. He's provided a spark in the return game, and already has 6 catches for 41 yards and 6 rushes for 45 yards. Add to those numbers his 149 return yards, and you see that he's made a huge impact in TWO short games. Basically, he's had two 100+ yard games.

Terrence Knighton displayed grit and toughness that speaks volumes about his character when he went back on the field last week on an injured ankle. This is a rookie folks, and he's not only starting, he's dominating veteran centers and literally controlling the line of scrimmage. Because of Terrence, Henderson is occassionally seeing one-on-one opportunities. We see what happens when Montavius Stanley comes in as well. Teams shift their double-teams to Henderson, and Stanley makes them pay. He's got 6 tackles, a sack, and a pass defense all in a back-up role. This team's defensive line has quickly become a strength with the stout Knighton manning the middle.

Derek Cox may be the Jaguars next Rashean Mathis, only with better tackling skills and slightly less speed. Derek has shown the same propensity for making the interception as Rashean has, and his tackling skills are excellent, as he's demonstrated on numerous open-field tackles. Derek is currently fourth on the squad with 21 tackles.

Rashad Jennings saw his first extended action on Sunday, and demonstrated once again, that Kennedy Pola is one of the best RB coaches in the game. Jennings looked like a different back from the preseason. He ran with a good pad level, he blocked well, and he showed nice cutting ability, but perhaps most importantly, he was decisive in his running. There was very little hesitation, something I saw as a problem for him in the preseason. He finished with 12 carries for 55 yards. Very nice work.

-Collin Streetman