The Jaguars' offensive strategy - on the surface - isn't all that creative. Jacksonville wants to move the ball on the ground, using the running attack to wear down defenses and open up the passing game when appropriate.
Smash mouth football isn't all that exciting but the Jaguars greatly benefited from that style last season. While the team has embraced the hard-nosed approach, a rash of wide receiver injuries and a lack of a true standout pass-catcher at tight end also forced their hand last season when it came to designing the offense.
With last season in the rearview mirror, the Jaguars decided to open up the offense a bit with a trio of offseason additions. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and wide receivers Donte Moncrief and DJ Chark were brought in to make the offense more dynamic.
Seferian-Jenkins was a receiving threat across the middle throughout the offseason program and Moncrief and Chark offer deep speed that should force double coverage during the season. The additions will open up the running game due to the coverage risks they create, and in turn, allow offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to create different looks for opposing defenses.
The Jaguars have depth at wide receiver and tight end, while also housing fullback Tommy Bohanon as a wildcard element for the offense. Because of the talent on the roster, Hackett has plenty of different fronts to test in specific situations.
"We have always talked about wanting to be as versatile as possible," Hackett said earlier this month.
"If you can put three tight ends out there and then a fullback out there and then all tight ends and all wide receivers and just always continue to mix it up so the defense does not get a beat on what you are doing, I think that is always something that you can really utilize to your advantage. We definitely have. The tight end group is really good. They can run fast, they are doing good blocking, so I think we are excited about them. The fullback too brings another dimension. Just being able to go back and forth kind of keeps the defense on their heels.”
On top of the talent at wide receiver, tight end and fullback, Hackett has a confident starting quarterback at his disposal. Blake Bortles is coming off a career year and his confidence has only grown because of his experiences during the team's run to the AFC Championship Game.
Hackett feels like Bortles has taken the next step in his development, which should help the play-caller when he designs the multiple-front options this season.
"Blake is right on track," Hackett said.
"I think you are always going to want more from Blake. He is the quarterback; you are always going want him to push him more. But I think his ability to understand what we are trying to do is increasing dramatically. The other day, a play we planned for a specific front – all of a sudden you get something different – and he checks completely out of it. I think those are the things that you want to keep pushing him on ... It is a different challenge at practice for him. It is not about learning a new play. It is about, ‘How can I make this play better?’"
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter: @Mike_E_Kaye.