Fans love old time football, right? Run the ball, run some more. You know all that stuff about when the running back getting 20+ carries and the team winning, well, Jacksonville is trying to reverse their correlations and causations and run the ball to victory while trailing.
It’s understandable, of course, given the personnel, that Jacksonville would be run heavy even when trailing more often than not. The team started the season with a quarterback who had never been a full time starter, and has since replaced him with a rookie in Blaine Gabbert. The outside receivers are far from proven commodities in the league, though one of them likes to talk smack to Darrelle Revis. The best player is Maurice Jones-Drew.
So far this year, the 1-5 Jaguars have thrown or attempted to throw a pass (pass attempts + sacks) on 183 plays and have run it on 182. Balanced? Only if you think 50/50 is balanced in this current era, particularly when playing from behind. Let’s take a look at how that ranks with other teams that had a record of 1-5 or worse after 6 games, in the modern 16 game era. Here are the 20 teams with the lowest pass percentage through 6 games at 1-5 or worse:
Team Year Passes Rushes Pct Passing KC 1978 128 266 0.325 DET 1978 166 206 0.446 SF 1978 176 210 0.456 CIN 1979 179 211 0.459 TAM 1986 169 195 0.464 BAL 1982 174 193 0.474 IND 1988 168 178 0.486 NYG 1979 185 193 0.489 NOR 1981 199 201 0.498 JAC 2011 183 182 0.501 SD 1991 185 182 0.504 DET 1979 187 182 0.507 HOU 1985 184 178 0.508 BAL 1981 191 184 0.509 CIN 1978 181 174 0.510 PIT 1986 201 193 0.510 WAS 1980 193 185 0.511 HOU 1983 198 183 0.520 BUF 1986 182 168 0.520 SEA 2008 182 162 0.529
Look at the years for those teams. This is just another reminder that the 1978 Kansas Chiefs may be one of the most fascinating bad teams in football history, as a first year coach named Marv Levy ran the wing-T offense as the Chiefs finished 2nd in rushing yards while going 4-12. Several other teams from the late 70’s and 1980’s appear on the list, as only this year’s Jaguars and Seattle from 2008 took place after 1991.
I don’t expect that to change tonight. Blaine Gabbert has had to go against some tough pass defenses, and now he draws the Ravens. Jacksonville is not going to win this game by throwing it a lot. They have to play a counter puncher game, hope not to turn the ball over, take advantage of opportunities, and hope that Joe Flacco has an off night.
When we take into account the changes in offense over the last thirty years, the Jaguars having a 50/50 split as a bad football team is almost as extreme as the Chiefs running to the Wing-T. It harkens back to an era when teams ran the ball more and were just learning to adjust to the more passer friendly rules of 1978, when baseball’s World Series still dominated the ratings. Unless the sports fans want to see some old time football and Jacksonville can keep it close, we might just get that again tonight.
[photo via Getty]