As the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) head north to take on the Minnesota Vikings (5-6), they will do so with yet another new offensive lineup. Mike Glennon will be making his second start at quarterback for the Jags, while No. 1 receiver DJ Chark is set to return from injury, marking the first time the duo will play together in a game.
Cobbling together an offensive—and for that matter offensive game plan—for the remaining five games begins on Sunday. Success will come with these three offensive keys versus the Vikings.
Take Advantage of the “Big Play”
“We’ve got to rise up and we’ve got to be able to make those plays in the game, that really push the needle in a game,” says Head Coach Doug Marrone.
“There’s always four to six plays in a game that you can look at that sway the game. I’m just hoping that the four to six plays, that you’re making those plays. I think this week, hopefully, we’ll have that opportunity to be in position and be able to make that play, that’s what we’re striving for.”
Of the Jaguars' 10 losses this season, five have come by one possession or less. Those four to six big plays can be fairly easily identified in each game as the hinge one which swung the loss. Glennon can pinpoint the two plays that lost the game last week versus the Cleveland Browns fairly easily. The key though is learning from them and turning them to Jacksonville’s benefit on Sunday.
“I think looking back at the game, there was a lot of good things, made some good throws and then a few throws [I’d like] to have back. Obviously, you look at those 2-point conversions and those could’ve been difference makers in the game, so both plays you wish you could have back, but that’s part of the NFL. You have to move on to the next week.”
The “big play” doesn’t necessarily have to be a big chunk of yardage. It can simply mean converting the 1-yard pass for the two-point conversion. Still, Glennon taking shots to change the game can be huge. He completed one pass that went for over 20-yards against the Browns; the 46-yard touchdown to Collin Johnson. It traveled just over 30 yards on air.
Taking advantage of the big play means creating the big play and that leads to the second key.
Let It Rip
As Glennon was preparing to start his first game in three seasons, he gave local media a glimpse into his mindset saying, “The thing to me is I have nothing to lose. I mean I haven’t been the starter in three years. I don’t know when this opportunity’s going to come again. I’m just going to go out there, have fun, let it rip, and see what happens.”
While going 20-35 for 235 yards and two touchdowns, Glennon said he felt more comfortable and loose than he has in his previous seven years in the league.
“I think last week I felt it more than I had in the past. Kind of what I hit on before, it’s just different situations…I’m at the point in my career where I just don’t worry about (losing my job) as much for a number of reasons. So, I feel good, I felt at ease playing the other day, and I’m going to do that again on Sunday.”
Involve the Tight Ends More
The Jaguars tight end room has seen a rotating door of active players due to injury. Incumbent James O'Shaugnessy and former Cincinnati Bengal Tyler Eifert head up the unit but have had trouble remaining healthy at the same time.
As such, the offensive playbook has had trouble dipping into that section of play calls. The three tight ends most used—Tyler Eifert, James O’Shaughnessy and Ben Ellefson—have combined for 41 receptions for 381 yards and two touchdowns (both Eifert).
“They’re always part of the program,” explains Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden.
“We try to anyway. We’ve just had some young people in there. Ben [Ellefson] unfortunately got a little dinged up last week, Tyler [Eifert]’s been a little bit dinged up, James [O'Shaughnessy]’s has been a little bit dinged up, so that hasn’t been quite the matchup that we would typically like to work. I think the more we get going hopefully Eifert starts to feel better, James starts to feel better with his knee, and we can get them more involved in the game. But yeah, that’s something that we need to try to get more into the game plan.”