One of the biggest complaints coming out of the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-15 win over the New York Giants was the lack of touches for running back Corey Grant. Actually, this has been a complaint since about mid-third quarter of the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, after Grant was picking up chunk plays in the first half.
It’s a valid question, but in my opinion the big disconnect is where Grant is effective versus how good fans think he is. He’s not Darren Sproles, Tyreek Hill, Tarik Cohen or even Chris Thompson. I feel like a lot of fans/locals think the Jaguars are squatting on that type of player and in reality, they’re not.
Grant is more along the lines of someone like a Tavon Austin, they’re both players with big play potential but they’re also both players you have to manufacture touches for with specific packages against specific looks.
For Grant, if he’s in the backfield in a single back or I-Form set he’s a giant red flag to the defense. He’s not going to stay in and block, he’s going to go out for a route or get the ball. This becomes a real issue if you’re in 11- (1RB1TE) or 12-personnel (1RB2TE), which the Jaguars seem to run quite a bit. If Grant is in the game as the running back, he’s 100 percent not blocking and more likely than not getting the ball or a play-fake.
That’s part of why Grant was a ghost in the second half of the game in the playoffs against the Patriots, because he’s very limited in what you can do and what packages you can run. If the defense doesn’t give you the right look, then the play is dead. You’ve got to constantly be evolving the looks or having looks you can also use with other plays so it’s not a dead give away to the defense.
You’re going to need specific packages for Grant, much like he had when he was in college at Auburn. He’s going to be the motion guy in a 21-personnel (2RB1TE) look, lining up in the slot and then motioning inside to fake a sweep or get a sweep to attack the edge with his speed. Or, like we saw in the preseason, he’s in the backfield with another running back who can potentially block and goes out for a pass or is a decoy for a delayed screen to the other side and most of these plays involved Leonard Fournette being in the game. Those were the plays he was effective in and those are the packages he’s going to be in going forward.
To double back to Sunday’s game against the Giants and why you didn’t really see much of Grant is more than likely simply because Fournette got hurt. At that point you only have two active running backs, so how much are you really going to run 21- 22-personnel looks when you only have two guys available? Not to mention, most of the packages with Grant involved Fournette as the other back, so the team can utilize both Grant and TJ Yeldon in those packages with Fournette. I’m sure Yeldon could handle that role, but when you’re doing install and game planning, Yeldon isn’t working on that role, so then you’re asking a guy to do a completely different thing than what was game planned.
Grant didn’t get a lot of play/touches because the situations didn’t allow for it on Sunday, not because they’re squatting on the next Tyreek Hill.