'We're Still in Diapers Right Now': Jaguars' Adjusting and Gelling with Jay Gruden's Scheme
The Jacksonville Jaguars have yet to have their first padded practice, so the question of exactly where the offense is at during this stage of training camp is hard to answer. But what is easy to answer, however, is where new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden sees the team's spot in the infancy stages of the process.
“We’re still in diapers right now," Gruden said during a video press conference on Wednesday. "We have a long way to go, but I’m excited about the guys, first of all. You have to have guys that are willing to learn and willing to work and I like the mentality of this football team."
Gruden is in his first year calling the plays for the Jaguars after nearly six seasons as the head coach for Washington. In Jacksonville, Gruden will be tasked with the vital job of developing not only second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II, but the rest of Jacksonville's offense.
So far, Gruden has had to adjust the Jaguars' roster to his offense slowly but surely. Due to an offseason and start to training camp that has been unlike any other in NFL history, Gruden, and the rest of the league, are having to adjust how they teach. Luckily for Gruden, the Jaguars are a team willing to learn and gel over time thus far.
"Coach Marrone does a great job of setting the tone for this team and these guys have come in and they don’t act like they know it all, they’re willing to learn and do things the way we want to do things now," Gruden said Wednesday.
"Some things will be similar, some things will be a little bit different, but from a walk-through, from a mental standpoint, from the ability for them to pick up and learn has been impressive so far. But once we get the pads on and you go in day in and day out, hopefully they keep their effort level high and [are] able to learn new things on the fly and be able to adjust. We’ve got a long way to go but I’ve been impressed with every one of them so far in the walk-through phase that we’re in right now.”
While the Jaguars are "still in diapers", Gruden is still liking what he has seen thus far. Of course, everything has been against air and in walkthroughs, but Gruden is still able to gauge how well his players are retaining information and communicating with each other.
With the Jaguars' offense continuing to flesh out the intricacies to Gruden's offense, and adjust while the scheme expands, Gruden is happy with the current pace, even if he knows the final product is far, far away. A piece of that comfortability has to do with the way training camp is scheduled, giving the Jaguars and Gruden plenty of time to digest the playbook.
“I think we’ll get it up to speed. The good thing about the start of training camp has been a phase two-type deal where we’ve had a lot of meetings; we’ve had a lot of walk-throughs before we actually practice full speed," Gruden said. "So these last five or six days, we have a few more days leading up to our first practice, have been good. We still have a lot of time without the preseason games. What that gives us is more time to have walk-throughs and get the looks we need to see getting ready for Indianapolis, Houston, and the teams that we play, as opposed to getting ready for a team you’re going to play in the preseason that you’ll never see again.
"I think we’re going to have plenty of time to get what we need to get in. Understand that we have a lot of young guys. We have guys in this offense for the first time and we just have to be patient. We also have to demand a lot of these guys mentally. We can’t just go out in five formations and run twelve plays. We have to challenge the defense. We have to challenge our guys and make sure we get the necessary looks and variety of offense that we need.”
Gruden, 52, served as Washington's head coach from 2014 until Week 6 in 2019, when he was fired after an 0-5 start and eventually replaced by Ron Rivera. Gruden compiled a 35-49 record in Washington but never won less than seven games aside from his first and final seasons with the team, leading Washington to one playoff appearance in the process