The Jacksonville Jaguars are hot headed into London to face the Houston Texans on a two-game win streak, but there is still an issue on the offensive side of the ball that sticks out like a sore thumb. The Jaguars are ranked 30th in the NFL in red zone touchdown rate, which most people attribute to rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II and has been a long selling point to return to veteran Nick Foles.
If you actually take a deep dive in the team’s red zone trips however, the issue becomes very apparent. They’re trying to run the ball way too much int he red zone.
Been taking a look at the Jags red zone issues (currently 30th in red zone TD rate) and the problem is pretty apparent. There's 14 teams, including the Jags who run more than they pass in the red zone, or at least have a dead even split— Jack (@PintOfJack) October 30, 2019
Here is an extremely rudimentary chart pic.twitter.com/wnPWI3zqao
I don’t know if it’s because the team is trying to get Leonard Fournette touchdowns, as he was a touchdown machine in the red zone his rookie year, or if they just get tight because the field is more constrained or maybe the just don’t have full trust in the rookie yet. Whatever the reason, they need to come off it and open things up more in the red zone and turn those field goals into touchdowns.
If you look at Minshew’s performance in the red zone, it’s actually quite good! In the red zone he’s 13 of 30 for 127 yards, nine touchdowns (six from inside the 10-yard line), zero interceptions and 11 first downs. On the flip side, Fournette in the red zone has 33 attempts for 31 yards, one touchdown and two first downs.
and this is all while Minshew is 10th in red zone passer rating at 106.5, 9 TDs, 11 first downs , 0 picks so its not like they aren't operating at a high level in the passing game there— Jack (@PintOfJack) October 30, 2019
Now, naturally Fournette’s yards per carry in the red zone is going to be awful, because the field is so condensed and typically it’s trying to punch it in, but that’s also kind of the issue. He’s had 33 attempts in the red zone, 17 of which is inside the 10-yard line, and just a single touchdown. In fact, the closer to the goal line, the worse it gets. He’s 17 for four yards and the one touchdown.
The team his hit a ton of explosive plays over the last couple of weeks thanks to Minshew, Fournette and D.J. Chark, but the issue of bogging down in the red zone keeps cropping up. As mentioned, it seems like the team just seems to tighten up and kind of over think it.
Instead of bunching up and trying to bully their way into the endzone, they should probably be spreading it out, putting Minshew in motion, etc.