If you hadn’t heard already, the Jacksonville Jaguars plan on running the ball a lot going forward.
This could be seen from the get-go: In the team’s first preseason game — a 31-24 win over the New England Patriots — the Jaguars rushed the ball more than double the amount of times they passed it, accumulating a 37:18 (2.05:1) run-pass ratio.
Not only did the Jaguars run the ball a lot, but they ran it successfully as well. Granted, many rushes were against backups and we won’t know how effective the run game is as a whole until the regular season, but 37 rushes for 207 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and two touchdowns is a really good box score.
However, although the Jaguars rushing attack will provide an occasional offensive spark and carries the hope of being effective, the Jaguars offense is going to be boring going forward.
Now, before the harping on word choice begins, let’s note: Boring does not mean bad, or not effective.
Rather, the Jaguars offense is going to be going against the grain, per se, as the NFL is known to be a “passing league”. Per teamrankings.com, no NFL team ran the ball more than they passed in 2016, with the highest run play percentage belonging to the Dallas Cowboys at 48.7%.
For reference, the Jaguars ran the ball on 67.3% of plays last night alone.
Leonard Fournette, the prized possession of the Jaguars run game and the team’s fourth overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, is going to be exciting to watch going forward with his combination of power and ability to create. However, even though there are high expectations in place when projecting Fournette’s production, as well as including Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon, and Corey Grant in the team’s game-plan, only one team as a whole averaged 5+ yards per carry last year — the Buffalo Bills (5.3 YPC).
In understanding that running the ball eats away at the game clock; That run plays average much less yards per play than passing plays do, and considering that the Jaguars plan to run the ball significantly more than they plan to pass, the Jaguars offense is going to be boring to watch. Boring is a subjective term, but it isn’t meant negatively at all. The Jaguars offense is simply going to be built on short play after short play with an occasional big run or pass play.
However, if the Jaguars can average at least four yards per carry and be able to convert in short yardage situations — Whether it be in the air or on the ground — such as third-and-3 or less or near the goal-line, then they will find offensive success.
This includes plays like this goal-line carry that Fournette converted for a touchdown last night:
Short yardage situations, where suspense builds for a likely play action pass call or for whether or not the running back will extend the drive on his carry, will be when fans should get their popcorn and be excited, because most of the other plays will likely be 3-6 yard runs, based on NFL trends and statistics.
But hey, as long as the run game is effective, and the quarterback isn’t making mistakes in his limited opportunities to pass, boring should be okay.