- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Denard Robinson was a quarterback at Michigan before the Jacksonville Jaguars converted him into an "offensive weapon." But it sometimes looks like he’s throwing a football for the first time.
Robinson, the Jaguars’ fifth-round draft pick in April, has really struggled as a passer when he’s lined up in the Wildcat formation. He hasn’t completed many passes in practice, and he nearly had one intercepted and returned for a touchdown Thursday night against Atlanta.
What makes the Wildcat formation dangerous is being able to throw out of it and not just run the read-option. Robinson completed 57.2 percent of his passes and threw for 49 touchdowns at Michigan, so he has the ability to make plays as a passer. The Jaguars have no plans to scrap the Wildcat, but coach Gus Bradley did concede that Robinson has to improve significantly as a passer to make it work.
"I see him in practice do it and he does some things and then [doesn’t do it in] the game," Bradley said. "But I think this is a process. We feel strongly that the strain he causes for a defense. But it's got to be an honest strain. Not something that, 'Let's do it, just so they think we'll do it.'
"Well, if it's not effective, that's not what we're all about. So it still comes back to me as a culture of execution. If we can do it and he can execute and we can make it a positive for us, then let's do it. But if it's something that we're just grabbing and doing, that's not part of our philosophy."
Part of the problem may be that Robinson is wearing gloves and he’s not used to throwing a ball with them. Another issue is one that affects nearly all college quarterbacks in their first year in the NFL: The defensive backs are faster, the windows for completions are smaller, and decisions must be made quickly.
Robinson has already proven he can be effective running the ball; he finished as the team’s second-leading rusher in the preseason (130 yards on 39 carries). But he is going to have to become a reliable passer to make the Wildcat work.