With the selection of LSU running back Leonard Fournette in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars all but announced they're going to commit to a power run game. The selection of Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson in the second round furthered that announcement.
It was discussed at length prior to the draft that if the Jaguars were planning on picking Fournette, as most of us had thought since like... October, they would need to make some drastic changes offensively. The Jaguars confirmed they'd be planning around Fournette now over the weekend.
"No question," Jaguars VP of football operations, Tom Coughlin, told the media shortly after Fournette's selection, when asked if the team would plan the run game around the team's first round pick. "You can draw on the experience in the entire room: Coach Marrone, Coach Flaherty and so on and so forth down the line. Don't forget [running backs coach] Tyrone Wheatley. You have some good run thoughts there."
Most of you are probably thinking "No duh," but if you've followed the Jaguars recently, fitting their scheme around their players hasn't really been a strong suit for them. The open acknowledgment that they'll be doing this is already a huge step forward, because Fournette is the type of running back who will thrive more in a gap/power scheme than single back/shotgun style the team has done in the past.
Much was made of the Jaguars lack of additions on the offensive line during the offseason, between free agency and the 2017 NFL Draft, but the team is clearly higher on the players they have available to them than fans and media seem to be. I do believe however, that some of their offensive lineman probably will lean better in a power scheme, like A.J. Cann and Jermey Parnell, than a more zone heavy scheme. That begs the question why they were running a zone heavy scheme in the past, but I'd rather not rehash that whole thing.
The point is, they're molding their run game around a potential star player and what fits him best. You don't want Fournette making cuts and choosing which hole to jump through in a zone scheme. You want to hand him the ball, follow the fullback through the gap between the center and the guard or the guard and the tackle and go downhill. You'll mix in some tosses and counters for misdirection, but overall you're going to want to grind teams up. I think going to more a gap/power scheme as well could help with leaving openings for defenders getting in the backfield, but guys just have to be on their blocks. You'll still mix in some zone plays, because all teams do it, but for the most part you're going to be running right at guys and imposing your will, which ultimately is what offensive lineman like to do.
"The idea that you are going to run because of what you have invested, and your offensive line knows it," Coughlin added when asked about how much a rookie running back can impact a team. "Your offensive line would much rather run the ball than pass protect all day long. When you make this kind of investment you know that you are going to see nine on sevens, you are going to see 11-on-11 play-action pass. You are going to see those kinds of drills because that is the nature of how we feel will help in a lot of different ways, one of which will be to toughen up your defense, toughen up your offense."
It's clear the Jaguars want to go more ball control style smash mouth offense, similar to the Tennessee Titans, but probably not as "exotic". I've seen some people wonder about the other backs on the roster, but I'm not sure you're going to want to dump either Chris Ivory or T.J. Yeldon if that's what the Jaguars do plan to do offensively, like I believe. You'll want to have those extra bodies so you don't run Fournette into the ground.