Jaguars' first-year offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden, brings a wealth of experience as a play-caller in the NFL. He spent the better part of the last half-decade as Washington's head coach and spent three years with the Bengals as their offensive coordinator before that.
With the addition of Jay Gruden to the coaching staff, the Jaguars have an entirely new playbook and offense.
Earlier this week, Jaguars' QB Gardner Minshew took to the practice field outside of "The Bank" for the first time this year. But Minshew's preparation for the 2020 season began months ago. His primary focus this offseason, outside of improving his ball security and overall strength, has been on the playbook. Minshew sees the playbook as "user friendly."
"I think that it is one of those things that you can draw everything up on paper, you know it by the book, but it is really about getting in there and getting reps, feeling the real timing of things, trying to make sure that your footwork really matches up within the play, seeing where actual spacing is versus on the page is definitely different," said Minshew. "So just looking forward to getting in those reps and I think that everybody else, this is an offense that is pretty user friendly, I think that everybody is learning it pretty well, excited to get moving with it."
Still, the 2019 sixth-round pick knows that there's no substitution for reps on the practice field, which is why he and many of his skill position players gathered for players-only workouts throughout the summer.
"I think one of the big emphasis this offseason has obviously been learning the offense remotely. You know you haven't been in the meeting room every day to be able to ask questions, so it has been kind of figuring it out, talking to whether it is guys on the team who have been in the system before or talking to Coach Gruden and Coach McAdoo as much as I can. I am just really trying to show up to camp ready to run this offense and help everybody else along."
Minshew's ability to retain what he learns in team meetings and film study has been lauded by Jaguars' coaches this offseason. He'll need to put that ability to use as the Jaguars have just over a month to prepare — and no preseason — for their first contest of the season against the Colts.
Minshew's understanding of the offense, along with the knowledge of free-agent additions Tyler Eifert and Chris Thompson, who both played for Jay Gruden before, should help the rest of the offense catch on quickly. But switching offensive philosophies in a shortened offseason with less time to prepare will be no easy task.
And make no mistake about it, this is an offense that will need to get off to a fast start in 2020. The Jaguars need to start games faster on offense and begin the season with a spark.
There hasn't been a more critical four-game stretch for the Jaguars to start the season in recent memory. They kick 2020 off with two division rivals, hosting the Colts at home in week one and then traveling to Tennessee to take on the Titans in week two. Getting off to a solid start in the division is always crucial. Then, the Jaguars have the two most important games of the season. They host Miami on Thursday Night Football and then travel to Cincinnati to take on Joe Burrow and the Bengals. These are the two most winnable games on the Jaguars' schedule, and they'll potentially face two rookie QBs in consecutive weeks.
If the Jaguars don't come out of the opening month of the season with at least two wins, it'll be highly challenging for them to compete for a playoff spot. Why? Their schedule gets considerably tougher down the stretch as they host the Steelers and Bears and travel to Green Bay, Minnesota, and Baltimore. With such a brutal slate in the back half of the season, a roaring start is essential for a competitive season in 2020.
Minshew, Gruden, and company will do everything they can over the next month to get the offense humming. But we won't honestly know anything about this offense until they take the field against the Colts in week one of the regular season. The Colts finished 16th in total defense last season, but putting up points will still be a challenge, especially with the Colts seeking revenge after the Jaguars stomped them 38-20 in the 2019 season finale.
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