Leading up to the 2019 NFL Draft we saw a lot of mock drafts show the Jacksonville Jaguars using the No. 7 overall pick on either tight end T.J. Hockenson or right tackle Jawaan Taylor, both positions of need but also both players who experts deemed to “fit the Jaguars style” as a team who wants to run the ball. For some reason that always rubbed me the wrong way, because in part it was lazy and in part because it seemed weird to me.
What is the 2019 Jaguars style of play? Does anyone know?
Will it be the same run heavy offense?
The assumptions like the ones above are that the Jaguars are still going to line up in a 21/22 formation and smash the football down your throat. That was to be expected in the previous seasons because the team was severely limited passing the football by their quarterback. Fast forward to 2019 and the Jaguars shelled out a four-year, $88 million free agent deal to upgrade that position with Nick Foles.
The team also hired former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator and Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo this offseason, who was fired from his previous job for not running the ball enough. Sure, the Jaguars spent the fourth overall pick on Leonard Fournette two years ago and had success with him getting the brunt of the offensive touches, but after what we’ve seen the last two years I’m not sure why you’d want to run that back again.
The team just hired a passing guru who got fired for not running enough and spent nearly 100 million on a new quarterback, so are we really supposed to think they’re going to play smash mouth football still?
Personnel tells you what to expect.
To get an idea for what a team wants to do on offense, looking at how their roster is constructed is a good place to start. If you look at the Jaguars current roster, you’ll notice they have one “fullback”. I saw “fullback” because Dimitri Flowers was a lot more of a pass catcher than a lead blocker in college with Oklahoma in their wide open offense. Flowers had nearly 500 receiving yards being listed as a fullback, but he plays more like a traditional H-back style tight end.
Going forward I will expect a lot more 12 personnel from the Jaguars (one RB, two TE) than the other way around. While Flowers might line up as a fullback if he makes the final roster, I wouldn’t expect him to be in the Tommy Bohanan mode of throwing himself into a brick wall to find an opening and that’s about the extent of his contributions. Flowers will like be someone who is motioned out and put in-line as a blocker or receiver.
We should see a lot of double tight end.
I don’t think anyone would argue that the wide receiver group is the strength of the Jaguars passing game. Tight end isn’t either, however using multiple tight ends allows you to run a wide array of plays from the same formations without tipping your hand. You can use Geoff Swaim as an in-line blocker while Josh Oliver is split wide to create a mismatch or pull the linebacker into space, which allows for less players in the box for Leonard Fournette. If the linebacker isn’t pulled and a safety walks down, then you’ve got your receivers with single coverage on the outside and likely a centerfielder to exploit.
I think the tight ends will be a big part of the Jaguars offense, but not necessarily from a production standpoint like most people expect.
They’re not handcuffed anymore.
One of the big reasons the Jaguars offense was anemic as it was, quite simply, was because of the limitations of the previous quarterback. He simply was not reliable with any consistency, so it’s tough to form a game plan that focuses on passing the football because you don’t know what you’ll get even from pass to pass, let alone game to game. That’s why the Jaguars ran the ball so much. That’s why they would squat on leads for some teams to inevitably battle back. That’s why the offense seemed to vanilla and blah.
It had to be.
The Jaguars didn’t hire Flip and pay Nick Foles to run the ball 40 times a game. While I have my opinion on Foles, he is a significant upgrade over Blake Bortles, which itself should open the offense up more. You can trust Foles, at least you’d assume so, more than you could the previous quarterback and you won’t be as hamstrung as you were previously which means you’re not almost forced to run the ball as much as you did.
I still expect the Jaguars to focus on running the ball and hitting big plays off of play-action, but it’s not going to be as laborious or obvious as it has been in the past.