A natural regression within a new offense is, well, natural, but the Jaguars are going through a regression that is difficult to overcome due to the rest of the team surrounding the offense itself. For now, they’ll need to work out how to fix itself, and quickly.
Over the past three weeks, the Jaguars have scored an average of 18.33 points per game. For perspective, the Jaguars scored an average of 23.33 PPG during the first three weeks of the season. They scored 27 or more points in the first two weeks of the season, including a 27-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in week one of the regular season.
According to Pro Football Reference, the team’s games against the Dolphins (Week 3), Houston Texans (Week 5) and Detroit Lions (Week 6) earned expected points of -5.61, 2.21 and -3.97 points, respectively. In contrast, its games against the Colts (Week 1), Cincinnati Bengals (Week 4) and the Tennessee Titans (Week 2), earned expected points of 9.78, 13.22 and 18.68 points, respectively.
On Wednesday, Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II addressed concerns of the offensive regression, and stressed the importance of remaining focused.
“It’s one of those things, it’s easy to get frustrated,” Minshew said when asked about not letting frustration distract his focus.
“It’s sometimes hard to find the bright side of things, but that’s what we have to do, and I think that’s what we are doing right now. I think we have everybody trying to pull together, trying to find solutions, had some great conversations already this week, and just trying to find and getting back to that excitement that we were playing with earlier in the year.”
While his statistics may not necessarily reflect it at first glance, the Jaguars quarterback has regressed somewhat, becoming less efficient than in weeks past. For example, in the team’s Week 1 victory, Minshew’s AY/A (adjusted yards gained per pass attempt) was 11.65. Since then he’s been up-and-down. Last week against the Lions, Minshew carried a 4.95 AY/A.
Much of the team’s inefficiency on offense can be pointed towards its inability to hold a lead on the defensive side of the football, or to be down by 1-2 scores, forcing the offense to become one-dimensional. However, over the past two weeks, they simply couldn’t get out of their own way.
On Wednesday, Jaguars offensive coordinator focused on the team’s inability to convert third downs as of late as one of the key reasons as to why the team’s offense hasn’t been as successful.
“I think the key is, against the Titans we were 10 for 14 on third down,” said Gruden.
“It keeps you in rhythm as a play caller. That’s the big thing and then we’ve struggled a little bit on third down as of late, even though [it] looked like we were like 50 percent, but it wasn’t quite as good as that. We got a couple late. I think we were 2 for 10 one week, 3 for 10 the next week, and as a player caller, if you’re not in rhythm, if don’t convert those third downs, it’s hard to get in rhythm.”
The ups and downs or ebbs and flows of an offense can be dictated by the play of its quarterback and play-caller at times, and if the two aren’t in sync with each other, it can look like what the Jaguars have over the past couple of weeks. For now, they’ll look to progress as they have during the first few weeks of the season, getting back to winning football on offense.
The answers aren’t there yet, but sometimes it takes one or two big plays to get it done.