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Jaguars run game needs help

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the aftermath of a winning game it’s a little easier to be critical of what happened than perhaps after a loss.  The psyche remembers victory but is willing to accept, it could have been better. That’s where the Jaguars found themselves on Monday after winning in Chicago. A couple of offensive series and a defensive play in the fourth quarter beat the Bears. Other than that, the game was fairly forgettable.

It might seem obvious that the Jaguars offense plays better in a “no huddle” situation and that they should use that as a staple. But Head Coach Gus Bradley says it isn’t that easy.

“It’s hard,” he explained at his Monday press conference. "Well, what happened on the first series? We moved the ball well and we huddled and we took our time, and we come out and we had great execution.” 

Like most teams the Jaguars script the first 15 plays of the game so the players know them cold. In a no huddle situation it’s very different.

“What is the answer? It is no-huddle? We’re in a no-huddle situation, there’s very few plays that we run in that, they’re able to play fast because of the limited plays. That’s the consistent things that show up in both.”

So this week the Jaguars coaching staff says they’ll be looking for ways to let the offense play fast that aren’t necessarily just a no huddle situation.

“What do we do, how do we go about making sure they play fast?” he asked. “Do we go no-huddle, do we condense our package so that guys understand exactly the responsibilities and all of the looks that you can possibly get? Sometimes in the no-huddle, the looks that you get are smaller too. You might not have as much that you can do.”

No huddle or not, the run game hasn’t materialized the way anybody in the organization envisioned it when they moved Brandon Linder to center and signed Chris Ivory in free agency. Only in the Indianapolis game did the Jaguars run the ball effectively, freeing up the rest of the offense and controlling the game. In the other four, it’s been non-existent.

“I can’t argue with the run game. It’s not coming along. Sometimes, you see it and some of the same things are popping up. It all comes back to, why aren’t we playing fast? Bradley said.

And for all of the study and discussion, the analysis and review, sometimes it just comes down to basic x’s and o’s blocking and tackling.

“It comes down to execution, technique, but there’s just not a certain speed or urgency in our play,” Gus said, moving the discussion along. “Whether it’s too complicated, something is holding us back from playing as aggressively as we need to in the run game. That’s where our attention is now. How do we get this fixed?”

Without a running game, the Jaguars will falter throughout the season trying to keep pace with the opponent and getting their defense off the field. Running the football controls the clock and oftentimes field position. It opens up short routes through play action. It keeps defensive linemen guessing. It puts corners and safeties in a position they don’t like. So if they fix one thing this week, and there’s plenty to work on, the running game should get their full attention.