Despite the 2-3 record, there is a buzz around Jacksonville about the Jaguars for the first time in years. Many years to be exact. Sure the 2017 season was magical for the fans, but the excitement was on the defensive side of the ball for the majority of games.
But this season, there is excitement surrounding the Jaguars offense. The buzz around town is not just the hoopla around Minshew Mania starring rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew. Rather around an offense that features a new coordinator, an emerging star at wide receiver, a determined running back, and the sixth round rookie at quarterback. Through the first five games, the offense is averaging 22.2 points per game, which is up a full touchdown from last season (15.3 points per game). This is an offense that takes shots down field and mixes the passing game with the running game. An offense that has a chance to come from behind, instead of rolling over and conceding like past years.
Jacksonville Jaguars Offense Has Buzz in 2019
The biggest difference in the offense this year is the explosive plays. Through the first five games, the Jaguars have been accumulating plays over 20 yards in chunks. Since the second game of the season, offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has opened the playbook and has taken advantage of the skill players on offense. Whether it’s a go route to wide receiver D.J. Chark or a deep-in route to Dede Westbrook, coach “Flip” has found a way to get the ball moving down the field. A sharp contrast to the 2018 offense that was static and unwatchable.
The combination of Minshew to Chark has propelled the passing game into the top 10 of the NFL in passing at 254.6 yards per game. There is separation from the receivers and pinpoint accuracy. Now that is something new! Chark is near the top of NFL receivers in yards and touchdowns, certainly a new spot for a Jaguars receiver. And of course Minshew has taken the town and nation by storm. Since replacing injured starting quarterback Nick Foles he has displayed the poise and savviness of a seasoned veteran. All the while allowing his personality and smile to shine bright and become a star in the league.
What’s the Same?
The focus of the offense continues to run through third year running back Leonard Fournette. He appears to be on a mission and has embraced the new offense. The Jaguars want to control the ball offensively with the running game. This philosophy seems a bit archaic, but remains the vision of the coaching staff and front office.
This offensive mindset is trending upwards thanks to back-to-back 100+ yards by Fournette. His recent efforts have propelled the Jaguars to eighth in the league for rushing at 138 yards per game. Look for the Jaguars to continue to ride Fournette in the weeks to come, especially against inferior opponents like the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals. Both opportunities for the offensive line to springboard the rushing attack and impose their will at the line of scrimmage.
What Must Change?
The Jaguars are currently sitting at minus four in the turnover ratio. This can be contributed to the loss of fumbles by Minshew (three against Carolina), some at critical times on the Jaguars’ side of the field. Blame it on the inexperience of Minshew or the sketchy offensive line, or both. This must be corrected if the Jaguars are to make a playoff run this season.
The Jaguars are among the most penalized teams in the NFL, close to nine per game. Too often they find themselves moving backwards to negate a positive play. The lack of discipline continues to haunt the Jaguars and there needs to be some accountability. Whether that comes from the coaches or an outspoken leader on either side of the ball. The only way to see improvements in this area is between the lines on Sundays.
Last Word on Jaguars Offense
Finally the fans in Jacksonville have a spark of hope offensively. Can it continue? Yes, as Minshew’s confidence grows with each snap. The penalties and costly turnovers need to diminish. However, the Jaguars will continue to display the firepower to make a game interesting, well into the fourth quarter if needed. Watching a game in the fourth quarter knowing there’s a chance at victory is a notion Jaguars fans have rarely witnessed until now.