Since Jack Del Rio took over the Jaguars in 2003, the Jaguars have established an identity around the NFL as a physical team. This should be no surprise given that Del Rio has coached under Mike Ditka and Brian Billick, two coaches who preached a physical style of football.
The Jaguars have parlayed the strong play on both lines and a solid running game along with efficient play from the quarterback position into two playoff appearances under Jack Del Rio.
2008 was supposed to be a year with another one of those playoff appearances, but injuries along both lines ended the Jaguars’ season before it ever really got started.
The health of the offensive and defensive lines is a key to success in the NFL, because all other branches of the team feed off of the quality of the lines.
The Jaguars’ blueprint for winning all starts up front:
- Physical play on both of the lines.
- Use a solid running game to set up the passing game.
- Efficient play from the quarterback position with zero to minimal mistakes.
- A passing game that stretches the chains 12-17 yards at a time.
- Solid defense that stops the run first.
After such a disappointing 2008 season that saw the Jaguars fail to execute their blueprint week in and week out, they made some personnel moves in the offseason that will change the landscape in Jacksonville for some time to come:
Fred Taylor leaving via Free Agency
Maurice Jones-Drew is now the feature back in an offense that had seen Fred Taylor quietly rack up over 11,000 yards since coming into the league in 1998.
However, Jones-Drew is one of the more versatile backs in the NFL and should fill in nicely. The only question is whether he can take a pounding for all 16 games as a feature back.
The Jaguars’ reserve running backs aren’t going to turn many heads in terms of sheer production, but they can be called upon to handle spot carries whenever Jones-Drew needs a rest.
Greg Jones will be the lead blocker behind a healthy and revamped offensive line, and can also be called upon in short yardage situations.
The signing of veteran Wide Receiver Torry Holt
The Jaguars have not had a decent duo at wide receiver since the McCardell/Smith days, and even after signing Torry Holt, they still don’t.
The problem with the Jaguars under Del Rio is that they always have a solid No. 1 receiver, but never any real supporting cast.
Then, to make matters even more difficult, they replaced the malcontent/bust parade of Matt Jones, Reggie Williams, and Jerry Porter with a bunch of rookies who were second-day draft picks.
There can’t be much blame placed on the Jaguars for not taking a receiver in the first round, as none of their first-round receiver picks have ever done anything worth noting during their time in the teal and black.
Torry Holt brings a ton of experience and a Super Bowl ring with him, which will be good for the rookies to learn from.
Jarett Dillard could turn out to be a late round steal for the Jaguars and work his way into the lineup, as Troy Williamson and Dennis Northcutt will fill the gaps until the rookies adjust to the NFL.
The hiring of defensive coordinator Mel Tucker
One of the more contributing factors to a disappointing 2008 season was the play of the Jaguars defense. A defense that was built on being a run stopper gave up more than 100 yards per game on the ground, and the pass rush was nearly non-existent.
Some of this can be attributed to personnel. Most of this can be put on the coaching of former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Jack Del Rio gave Williams free reign over the defense, and it turned out to be a disaster.
Williams is a former head coach, and there was some miscommunication and a difference of philosophies between Williams and Del Rio.
The addition of Mel Tucker as defensive coordinator may be a head scratcher, considering he came from Cleveland, but the Browns did tie for third in the NFL in takeaways in 2008.
The Jaguars lacked turnovers, dropped in sacks production, and were pushed around by bigger offensive lines.
Tucker’s defensive philosophy is more in line with that of Jack Del Rio’s, and with some better play from the defense, the Jaguars could right the ship in a hurry.
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