NFL scoring is down, but the Jaguars? They're finding a formula
We chat with the offensive coordinator and playcaller central to it all in Jacksonville. Press Taylor explains why offenses across the NFL are struggling... and how they're thriving.
Analogies can fall flat. It’s not easy for grown men to inspire other grown men. Even as he won 125 games as the Green Bay Packers’ head coach, Mike McCarthy’s address to his team the night before games often came across as corny. More than a few players rolled their eyes. Then, on Hard Knocks, we saw McCarthy showing players clips of Austin Powers in an attempt to help the Dallas Cowboys players find their “mojo moment.”
We all love Austin Powers, but this also came across as cringy.
He’s not alone. Arizona’s Jonathan Gannon went viral for a speech publicized by the team itself. His point — to find “f--king killers” — wasn’t uncommon. But first asking players to raise their hands if they took the bus was… strange. Gannon looked more like Kendall Roy knockoff in the middle of a “Living Plus” presentation.
So whenever a team message does resonate, it’s noteworthy.
That was the case for the 2022 Jacksonville Jaguars. At 3-7, Doug Pederson told players he had a “crystal ball” and, upon gazing into this crystal ball, he saw the Jaguars winning. And winning. And having a chance to take the division in Week 18 against the Tennessee Titans. He was proven correct. Jacksonville also pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history a week later.
This season, another analogy is proving effective in Jacksonville: Be water.
As offensive coordinator Press Taylor explains, offensive coaches have been using this famous Bruce Lee quote with players because water “is fluid.” They want to have the ability to win every type of game. Taylor knows this mantra is particularly important with Trevor Lawrence, the team’s star quarterback, nursing a knee injury into tonight’s game against the New Orleans Saints.
Maybe C.J. Beathard starts. Maybe Lawrence starts, and isn’t himself. This is a true game-time decision.
Either way, this game could look different.
Flexibility is always a must.
“We tell our guys, you’ve got to be able to win a shootout. You’ve got to be able to win a slugfest,” Taylor says. “And there’s times this season where we’ve gone in with the big halftime lead and it changed the way we wanted to play because all we want to do is win. I know the fans want to win every game by 50 and put up 500 yards. We just want to win. The dynamics of a game change possession to possession. We’re always trying to move the ball. We’re always trying to score. We feel we’re multiple enough, we’re flexible enough to do whatever it takes to do that.”
Not every offensive coach can speak so confidently. Week 6 in the NFL was one of the strangest we’ve seen in recent years. The 18.4 points that teams averaged last weekend was the league’s lowest-scoring week in seven years, as noted by the AP. You’ve got to go back to Week 15 of the 2014 season when teams averaged 18.2 points. Only two teams — the Jaguars and the Dolphins — scored at least 27 points in Week 6, the fewest since 1995.
The last time 10 teams won a game with 21 points or less was 1993.
Twenty-three teams in all scored 20 points or less. The most ever.
Quarterbacks combined for a passer rating of 78.6 last week. The worst in seven years.
All of this despite the NFL rigging the odds in the offense’s favor and despite the league boasting a full marquee of showstopping quarterbacks who’ve turned the position into an art form. The best of the best into 2023 — Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts — have all stammered for stretches. Passing the football is becoming laborsome. A definite trend, no anomaly. But… why? And right as most NFL offenses meander deeper into the wilderness, the Jacksonville Jaguars are turning a corner. They totaled 474 yards and 29 first downs against Buffalo, before then blowing out the Indianapolis Colts, 37-20. So… how?
The team’s playcaller, Taylor, examined this puzzling Rubik’s cube in full with Go Long.
Success for this team requires many hours of film. A host of playmakers. Zero panic.
With those two words always at the forefront of mind: “Be water.”
Inside this story:
Why is scoring down? Press Taylor explains. This isn’t our father’s defensive line.
The specific plays that busted Jacksonville out of its funk. London was good to this team. They stayed one step ahead of Sean McDermott’s defense.
Life as a coach. Hunting for every conceivable edge tends to be an obsession.
Coaching Trevor Lawrence. He’s gaining freedom at QB.