Andy Benoit’s NFL previews at the Fifth Down Blog of the New York Times are thorough and compelling reads.
I think he underestimates the Jaguars, Rashad Jennings and their overall offensive talent and doesn’t have high enough expectations for them this season. You can read his whole look at the team here and judge for yourself.
But as is usual in Benoit’s work, he hits on one eye-opening element of the team he’s examining.
The questionable talent at wide receiver could be extra debilitating given that (Mike) Mularkey’s scheme uses, almost exclusively, isolation routes. In other words, none of the receivers’ routes will combine to work off one another. Everything is separate and easy for defenses to identify. New offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski (who will actually be the one calling plays) had a similar type of passing game in Cincinnati. This rudimentary approach can work when you have high-powered receivers (Mularkey had Roddy White and Julio Jones in Atlanta; Bratkowski had Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens a few years ago in Cincy), but can be constricting when you don’t.
Mularkey’s system makes great use of tight ends, which can at least alleviate the pressure on Jacksonville’s wideouts.
While isolation routes may call for more talent at receiver, it also seems like they would simplify things for quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Anything that makes things easier for a guy the team is trying to make the central figure for the offense is OK with me, as long as it’s not so simplified as to qualify as dumbed down.