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Deep into the process

Posted Feb 10, 2012

Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski says experienced offensive staff 'really beneficial'

Bob Bratkowski wouldn’t call the process glamorous, exactly.

Bratkowski, hired last month as the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator, will tell you in fact that putting together an offensive playbook and scheme – a process that is ongoing at EverBank Field – is quite the opposite. The days are long, and the nights aren’t short, either.

But Bratkowski will tell you this, too:

While the process may be tedious, it’s far from boring or unproductive, and because of the people involved – a veteran staff that includes five coaches with NFL offensive coordinator experience – it’s not only a necessary, important time, but an exciting one, too.

“It’s really a good group,” Bratkowski said this week as he sat in on Jaguars This Week. “There’s so much experience, so many guys who have been in the league and experienced things and been successful. They’re really good teachers. It’s been fun to work with these guys.

 “They’re very intelligent, very good football coaches and very good teachers. It’s been a very good process.”

Bratkowski, who spent 10 years as the offensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2001-2010 and four seasons as coordinator with Seattle (1995-1998), is not only the coordinator – and therefore the coach making most of the final decisions – he also is the assistant on the staff with the most coordinator experience.

But he’s far from alone.

Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey, with whom Bratkowski worked as quarterbacks coach last season when Mularkey was the coordinator in Atlanta, has coordinated three offensives – in Atlanta the past four seasons, in Miami in 2006 and in Pittsburgh from 2001-2003.

Running backs coach Sylvester Croom was the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions from 1997-2000; Greg Olson was the coordinator in Tampa Bay from 2009-2011, St. Louis from 2006-2007 and Detroit in 2005; and wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan coordinated the Arizona Cardinals’ offense in 2003.

Mularkey said last week that despite the experience the group was working well together while piecing together the offense. Bratkowski this week agreed.

“It’s a good thing,” he said. “At the end of the day, I have to make certain decisions on the way things are going to be structured, but the input they can give to the whole staff about issues they’ve dealt with not only in the structure of an offense – how you call things, how you name things – when you start game-planning, the ideas that will be available should be fun to deal with.

“My role is to make sure they keep bringing those ideas out. I don’t want them to feel like this is just my show: ‘Here’s how we’re doing it.’ I try to keep them involved. I always ask for their opinion: ‘Is there a better way to say this, a better way to do this?’

“That’s really beneficial to me and I think that will be beneficial to us as a team.”

Bratkowski called compiling a playbook “a long, tedious process,” with the staff essentially creating a four-inch thick book with double-sided pages. The offense will be based on the balanced scheme Mularkey used in Atlanta the past four seasons – a scheme with origins from his time as the Steelers’ coordinator – but Mularkey has stressed several times since taking the Jaguars’ position that the language of the offense must be that of Bratkowski.

Bratkowski said that also is a process, one that is taking place at EverBank this month.

“It has to flow off my tongue,” Bratkowski said. “It has to be second nature. I have to be able to get it called and get it down, but there are some things I still will have to learn. We’re doing some things a touch different than the last time I did them, so I’ll have to learn these things, but going through those things as meticulously as we are now is one way of ingraining it in my mind.”

Bratkowksi said as of early this week, the process was still in its early, basic stages – the mechanics of the huddle, snap counts, formations and shifts – but said when it comes to a playbook, attention to basics now has benefits later.

 “It’s the platform you’re building from and you have to make sure as you’re doing it that you don’t paint yourself in a corner and say, ‘We’re going to do it this way,’’’ Bratkowski said. “We spent a whole morning on one page, our alert system, our audible system. We just wanted to make sure it was covering every possible scenario and that it is easy to teach and understandable by the players.”

Bratkowski this week also discussed:

*Blaine Gabbert, and what he saw from tape of the quarterback’s rookie season: “He came in probably in the worst year a quarterback can come into the NFL (because of the lockout last off-season). He came out of a shotgun system. He hadn’t taken four-or-five step drops. He had no benefit of OTAs and offseason. He showed up to training camp and had to go get it, and that’s a very difficult thing. He’s at the point now where he had that first taste of being under center, being exposed to offensive communication styles and being exposed to NFL defenses. But, really the first thing we’re going to be working on are his fundamentals under center until the time he gets the ball out of his hand. He has a lot of work to do, but there’s an enormous wealth of talent there.”

*The Jaguars’ wide receivers: “That’s one group we have to get some improvement out of. I know Jerry Sullivan will work some wonders with some of those guys, and if we do bring in some new talent – whether it’s through the draft or free agency – I think we can get that group up to speed to where it will help our quarterback.”

*Tight end Marcedes Lewis: “This offense is friendly to tight ends. I think he’s capable of doing a lot of things. I know a lot of people base everything on numbers – how many touchdowns, how many receptions – but in some cases that’s not necessarily what says a guy has a good or a bad year. If you watch some of the things he did, he did some things extremely well. Numbers don’t always tell the story. . . . You don’t find many guys who are at that level. There are guys who are really, really good pass catchers and guys who are really, really good run blockers, but he has enough of both to get you really excited.”

*The Jaguars’ offensive line: “There’s some depth in the offensive line. I’m impressed with the offensive line. You can never have too many good offensive linemen. I was excited when I got a chance to sit down and look at a bunch of them. I think there’s a little room for improvement, but they’re not certainly a washout in pass protection. Every team has issues. There were guys we had to help in Atlanta last year. Just about every team has that. Very few don’t. You get your guys up to a certain level and if certain guys need help against a particular style defensive player you help them with a back chipping or a tight end in front of him or whatever ways.”

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