By no measure of the imagination are the Jacksonville Jaguars a great football team this year. However, they’ve been starting to play better, as their 25-24 victory over the New York Giants showed. And offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch is getting more confident in this team.
That said, Fisch and head coach Gus Bradley unleashed Jackonville’s wildcat package last week against the Giants. They have the perfect player in Denard Robinson to lead the wildcat, given that the former Michigan product holds the record for most rushing yards (4,495) by a quarterback in NCAA history.
A wide receiver-turned running back on the Jaguars, Robinson has done most of his damage running the football this year. In weeks 7-9, he racked up 329 rushing yards against the Browns, Dolphins and Bengals. He’s had smaller performances since then against the Cowboys (60 rushing yards), Colts (25) and Giants (44).
But against New York, the wildcat helped Robinson gain 21 of his 44 rushing yards. The team ran the formation four times, with two plays resulting in runs of 16 and 5 yards for Robinson. The other two plays resulted in a false start penalty and a hand-off to Jordan Todman for -1 yard.
The 21 yards that Robinson gained through the wildcat all came in one third-quarter drive. And this was crucial because it set quarterback Blake Bortles up for a 30-yard touchdown pass to Marqise Lee. Given that the team netted 20 yards on the three runs they did out of the wildcat, you’d wonder why they waited until the 12th game to use it.
Fisch explained the matter to Jacksonville.com by discussing how it was more important for this young team to work on their base offense than to try gimmicky schemes to throw opponents off. He emphasized the importance of working on the normal offense since the rookie QB Bortles took over just two and a half games into the season.
“I don’t think that’s the time to introduce the wildcat, when it’s his first opportunity,” Fisch explained. “Then you have a few weeks where we’re trying to get him comfortable, and we need to not only evaluate Blake, but we need to let Blake get experience, so why take those snaps away from him?”
The same reigns true for Robinson, who was busy playing multiple positions last year while trying to find the perfect fit for his skills.
“Now can we ask him to take it to the next level?’’ said Fisch. “Last year, we thought looking back on it, maybe we gave Denard too much. Now was a chance of let’s just watch the development of all these guys. Why throw exotic formations at Marqise Lee when he’s barely just returning? Why throw the offensive line with a rookie center and a rookie guard to now hear somebody else’s snap count other than a quarterback?”
With four games left in the season, it will be interesting to see if Jacksonville continues trotting out their wildcat formation. Considering that they have a multi-talented player in Robinson to run the wildcat, it would certainly be a good idea.