The Jacksonville Jaguars running game is abysmal so far this season. T.J. Yeldon is being looked at as the feature back because Chris Ivory has come along slowly this year, the team is averaging just 71 yards on the ground per game, they have just one rush of 20 yards or more, and coming into Sunday’s game their offensive line was allowing running backs just 0.91 yards per carry on the season before initial contact — good for second-worst in the league.
And head coach Gus Bradley is having none of it.
“I can’t argue with the run game,” Bradley said on Monday. “It’s not coming along. Sometimes, you see it and some of the same things are popping up. It all comes back to, why aren’t we playing fast? It doesn’t look to me that, when we’re out there, the offensive line, tight ends and everybody, we’re executing. It comes down to execution, technique, but there’s just not a certain speed or urgency in our play. Whether it’s too complicated, something is holding us back from playing as aggressively as we need to in the run game. That’s where our attention is now. How do we get this fixed?”
Sadly, the answer is that there is no single answer. It’s all a problem at this point. Yeldon and Ivory are showing a hesitancy to hit the hole — Yeldon a little moreso than Ivory. The offensive line is getting little to no push. And Blake Bortles is making mistakes in the passing game — which is limiting Greg Olson whose tendency before Jacksonville was to use the run game to open up play-action to open up the passing game to open up the run game.
In short, it’s both talent and scheme... but it’s more the former than the latter.
So, what’s the fix? Bradley alluded to the no-huddle later in his press conference as a possible answer. That’s probably the best answer, honestly. The offense is doing well on the first 10-15 scripted plays because they know them better. There are limited plays in the no-huddle offense, so the players can play faster and more loose.
But at the end of the day, it’s not about maximizing the talent you have in the run game. It’s about hiding the deficiencies. And until the talent level increases, you’re going to have these glass ceilings and you’re going to have questions that, in all honesty, don’t have any real answers.