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Jaguars running game will need to feature in 2016

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The Jaguars passing game has grown quickly to one of the best in the league. Now it's time for the running game to catch up.

Jim Steve-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars offense was one of the few bright spots as the team struggled to finish 5-11 on the 2015 NFL season. Second year quarterback Blake Bortles shattered franchise single season records and had arguably the best season by a Jaguars quarterback ever, statistically. Second year receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns cemented themselves as legitimate NFL wide receivers, the former landing as a first alternate for the Pro Bowl and the latter setting records for undrafted free agents.

There was one area that left a lot to be desired however, and that was the Jaguars running game. Rookie back T.J. Yeldon flashed potential in spots and I believe showed he can be a feature back, but overall the Jaguars run game struggled quite a bit when you remove the yards gained from a scrambling Blake Bortles. Yeldon showed quick feet and the ability to make something out of nothing, but for the most part poor run blocking did him and the others in more often than not.

For the 2016 season the running game is going to need to be one of focus for the offense so they can become more balanced. The passing numbers were great, and sure some of that was because they were playing behind often, but a lot of that was because the run game was just ineffective in the majority of games last season. It’s a big reason why the Jaguars struggled in the redzone and a big reason Bortles had as many passing touchdowns as he did.

The team simply couldn’t punch it in, so they were forced to spread teams out and throw the ball on the goal line, which doesn’t really play into Bortles area of strength, which is in the intermediate a deep passing game. Bortles finished the season with 35 touchdowns and 21 of those were from within the 10-yard line. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for Bortles, but the team is going to need to be more balanced in how it scores within the 10-yard line next season.

The Jaguars don’t need to run the ball for 130 yards per game or average over 5 yards per carry in 2016, but they’ll need to have a functional running game to bring balance to their offence. Bortles numbers next season should, ideally, take a dip as the team becomes more balanced running the football and once they do that it should lead to more wins, because you’ll control more of the flow of the game. Too often in 2015 the Jaguars needed quick strikes and big chunks of yardage in the passing game to score. Those are great, but you still want to be able to methodically drive down the field and control the clock when you need to.