The NFL, once a league whose teams found success by churning out rushing yardage and controlling the clock, has transformed into a pass-heavy, professional likeness of the Big XII. The Jaguars, however, seem committed to an old-school mentality of physical football and trench warfare.
It may be their undoing.
In the NFL's first regular season weekend, 14 quarterbacks passed for more than 300 yards, and 18 passed for more than 250 yards. For those of you doing the math at home, 250 yards per game is the average needed to eclipse 4,000 yards in a season.
While it's only week one, and the numbers may even out, it's easy to see that the very nature of how professional football is played and competed has completely metamorphosed. This is mostly due to rule changes aimed at opening up offenses and increasing points.
Consider 2010 as an example of the changing nature of NFL offenses. Last season, five quarterbacks threw for more than 4,000 yards, while seven more threw for more than 3,500 yards. This exemplifies a marked trend from 2000, when only three quarterbacks threw for more than 4,000 yards and only six others eclipsed 3,500.
Need more proof?
Ten years earlier, in 1990, only one quarterback, Warren Moon, surpassed 4,000 yards. Only four others eclipsed 3,500 yards. Names like Boomer Esiason, Jim Kelly and Troy Aikman failed to even closely approach that mark.
Back to the present. In 2010, only five teams failed to throw for more yards than the Jacksonville Jaguars. The effect of a 27th-ranked passing attack showed itself most clearly near the end of drives, when opposing defenses would merely stack the line of scrimmage to stop Maurice Jones-Drew. Once inside the red-zone, the Jaguars' ground-and-pound approach became predictable, and easy to defend. The inability to finish drives was the primary cause of Jacksonville's 18th ranked scoring offense and failure to close the division against the Colts in December.
With Luke McCown under center in week one, the Jaguars seemed once again handcuffed with their offensive strategy and passing production. Their conservative game-plan resulted in no touchdowns beyond the first drive, and forced them to settle for field goals twice in the red zone.
The Titans, in fact, effectively shut down the Jaguars' offense in the second half. Only six teams threw for fewer yards than Jacksonville, and, as a result, only seven teams scored fewer points. In fact, Jacksonville had the lowest point total for any winning team in week one.
While McCown's performance was respectable, it wasn't the type of performance that will enable the Jaguars to compete long-term against the offenses on their schedule. This is all the more reason why the Jaguars will struggle to score points, and even more evidence why Blaine Gabbert will take over sooner rather than later.