For a Jaguars fan, it’s a season which began with playoff hopes and has unraveled before we hit November. So, with the playoffs seemingly so far out of reach with still most of the schedule remaining, Jacksonville used their long weekend to make a critical move on the coaching staff.
Greg Olson was replaced as Offensive Coordinator, in a move that seems like the first of many to be coming the Jags way in the months to come. In NFL circles, new OC Nate Hackett is seen as an innovative mind, who had the handcuffs put on him by Doug Marrone while in Buffalo. Ironically, Marrone is now on the staff as Assistant Head Coach with the Jags.
“I don’t think anyone is happy with where we’re at, I mean we’re 2-5 and that sucks,” said Hackett.
Considering the expectations placed on the Jaguars at the beginning of the year, “sucks” might be putting it mildly. Yet, with Hackett taking over the play calling, the odds are skewed for an uptick in the twenty-eighth ranked offense.
“Anytime there is a change like that, it’s different, it’s shocking, it’s a change and something to adjust to,” QB Blake Bortles said earlier this week.
The biggest adjustment needed, is Bortles propensity for turning over the football. The Jaguars go in to their Week 10 matchup with Kansas City minus eight in turnover margin: bad enough for 31st in the league. Bortles’ nine interceptions is tied for the second most of quarterbacks who have played in every game this season. It’s easy to see why change was needed.
“As long as he knows that I’m there for him and I want to make him successful, whether it is through mechanics or just understanding, and what were trying to accomplish versus our next think that is kind of the first step,” said Hackett.
The next step would be figuring out how to keep the offense on the field. The Jags rank thirtieth in Time of Possession averaging just 27:01 with the football.
“When you look at the whole thing, it hasn’t been successful,” said Hackett. “I think that is why you have to take a good hard look at it.”
To peel one more layer back, the offense was top 10 in “explosive plays” a season ago, this year their twenty-ninth. Averaging just over three “explosives” through eight games, is completely the opposite of what made Olson’s offense successful a year ago.
Clearly, it has gone backwards. Sure, there is something to be said about how teams are game planning for receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, but mostly it comes down to the lack of execution.
“If we get everyone on the same page, focus on some of those things we’ve seen (Bortles) do well, I think that will help us,” said Hackett.
If there is any tale of a season turnaround the Jaguars need to follow, it’s one starring them in the face this Sunday. The Chiefs last season dropped their first five games before rattling off 11 straight victories, proving it is possible.
But, for the Jags, it’s small steps and playing well on offense for four quarters is the first goal, this week.