Through the first three weeks of the 2014 NFL season, teams stacked the box and dared the Jacksonville Jaguars to run the football. That was because the team was not really a threat at beating teams through the air under Chad Henne and it made the team one dimensional.
In just his fourth start of the season, Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Blake Bortles is forcing teams to dare the Jaguars to run the football instead and on Sunday the did just that and controlled the game.
"It just appeared like Cleveland came in and said let’s defend the pass, that’s how you do it and make sure they don’t get 380 or 350. They’re going to run the ball," Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said on Monday, when asked if the Jaguars can consistently runt he ball now.
In weeks past, teams seemed to walk one of their safeties up closer to the line of scrimmage, creating an eight man box, which is tough to run at, and gave up the single coverage on the outside. Bortles had started taking advantage of that and moving the team down the field, so the Browns came in and backed their safety off and played more coverage.
"So we saw a lot of different looks that maybe we haven’t in previous weeks because of that so when they do that you have to take advantage of it. I just felt like they were playing a lot of split safety and here’s what’s taking place and we have got to be able to run the ball in this situation, and we did," Bradley continued. "Every week is different. It depends on how teams play us and what’s available for us. We’ll see how they want to come out and play us and take advantage of what they will do."
It seemed easy for the Jaguars to run on Sunday and that could be because the Browns were so worried about Bortles beating them through the air.
Think about that for a second.
When's the last time the Jaguars had a quarterback that forced teams to defensively game plan to back off and stop them from throwing for 300+ yards in the air?