- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars have tried various things to get the running game going.
They've used more of the gap blocking scheme instead of being an exclusively zone blocking team.
They've used the pistol formation.
They've given Denard Robinson, who never quite worked out as an offensive weapon, the No. 2 spot on the running back depth chart and some carries.
Nothing has worked. The team is still last in the NFL in rushing (61.7 yards per game), Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry and they're coming off a game in which they rushed for just 32 yards -- the fourth-lowest single-game total in franchise history.
"We need to find a way to run the ball," coach Gus Bradley said. "We just have to. It doesn't matter how good they are up front, we still have to find a way."
There's really not much left to try. Bradley said Thursday that Jordan Todman and Justin Forsett, who has played in the past two games, will get more opportunities to run the ball Sunday against Houston. Robinson may get a carry or two as well.
Jones-Drew will still get the majority of the work, but Bradley said taking some of the load off his shoulders may help him stay rested and be more effective. Jones-Drew has 157 carries. The rest of the running backs, which includes fullback Will Ta'ufo'ou, have 42.
"One of the things we looked at is throughout the NFL you see teams go with one lead back and another back might get five or six reps a game in order to keep the No. 1 guy fresh," Bradley said. "We haven't been doing that as much so that's something that we're looking into.
"It might be with MoJo that if we do that and he's fresher, we get more production."
The running game problems aren't only due to a tired Jones-Drew. The offensive line hasn't played well at all. The unit, especially the interior, struggled with the zone blocking schemes early in the season so offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch called more gap-scheme plays. That has helped a little bit but the line is still struggling to create space.
Injuries have been a factor as well. Jones-Drew was coming off a Lisfranc injury, suffered a sprained ankle in Week 2 and has been dealing with knee soreness. Left guard Will Rackley and right guard Uche Nwaneri battled knee injuries early in the season. Rackley has missed the last two games with a concussion. The Jaguars ran for a combined 86 yards in a victory over Tennessee and a loss to Arizona.
Bradley said he and Fisch have challenged the offensive line this week because they're facing a Houston defense that ranks No. 1 in the league in total defense but 23rd against the rush.
They want to see more explosive plays. The Jaguars are last in the NFL with just three rushes of 15 or more yards this season and 58.7 percent of runs have gone for 2 or less yards.
"I think I told you all a bunch of weeks ago there's going to be a lot of 2-yarders and 3-yarders," Fisch said. "The problem we're having is we're not getting the ex-play [explosive play] runs. If you don't get an ex-play run you're never going to have more than 60 yards rushing.
"What we haven't been able to do is break one. There's been times that you're like, 'Oh, that's a nice -- oh, almost broke that.' Until we break a few we'll be hovering in that 40-60-yard range and that's not good enough."
Nothing they've been doing on the ground has been.