The Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday by a score of 19-14 in a game where the Jaguars were expected to lose — in fact, the Jaguars were given a ~19% chance to win heading into the game.
However, even though the Jaguars were expected to lose, everyone had their eyes on how the offense looked under new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. Hackett was promoted last Saturday after the team surprisingly fired Greg Olson from the position after a very poor first seven games for the offense.
All in all, Hackett’s first game as OC went well. The offense has it’s problems talent-wise with Blake Bortles regression, pass-dropping, and run blocking, but the offense as a whole seemed much more aggressive and confident than it has all year under Olson.
In Buffalo, Hackett ran a very balanced offense that trusted the run game to open up the passing offense — something in which the Jaguars have wanted to have all year and had ultimately failed at until yesterday. In fact, the Jaguars entered the game with just 508 rushing yards in seven games with Olson, and totaled 205 today with Hackett calling the plays -- 40.4% of what they did under Olson this year.
Chris Ivory had 18 carries and was given the opportunity to stretch out of the backfield, which led to him having his breakout game for Jacksonville in tallying 107 yards.
Hackett also was aggressive in targeting down the field in his play-calling. Allen Robinson was targeted 11 times, catching seven for 76 yards and a touchdown while averaging 10.9 yards per catch. It was the first time this year where Bortles was givens plays to target Robinson down the field, which suits both of their styles of play.
Marqise Lee was spread all over the field on short and long routes and thrived in all aspects, which yet again was a result of Hackett’s play calling. Lee caught four passes for 84 yards and was always given room to make plays in space.
Heck, even Bortles looked more comfortable today than he did all year. Without playing in garbage time at all, Bortles went 22/41 with 252 yards and two touchdowns, as well as 54 rush yards. However, he clearly remains to be a problem, as seen by his continuous over-throws and horrible stare-down interception he threw on an intended pass to Allen Robinson that went right in Chiefs linebackers’ Ramik Wilson’s hands.
One thing that Greg Olson failed at tremendously this year was calling screen plays, as many fans know. Olson’s screen plays both to receiver and out of the backfield were horribly constructed throughout the year, whereas the Jaguars were successful on several screen passes against the Chiefs — including a delayed screen to TJ Yeldon out of the backfield that Yeldon took 13 yards to score a touchdown.
All in all, the offense had and will most likely continue to have some struggles due to Bortles’ serious regression from 2015 and some fundamental issues with the playmakers, but the offense seemed much more aggressive and comfortable in running Nathaniel Hackett’s plays.
There may not be much of anything to be hopeful for this year if you’re a Jaguars fan, but at least it looks like the offense will be a little more fun under Nathaniel Hackett.