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Fabulous Four: Quiet Week II (The Sequel) Edition

Posted May 31, 2013

Senior Writer John Oehser examines Jaguars-related topics from Jedd Fisch, Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Matt Scott and Justin Blackmon

4) One Coordinator, One Offense. We begin this Quiet Week II (the Sequel) Fabulous Four with a subject that received at least some clarity this week, and that’s the offense being installed by Jedd Fisch. The Jaguars’ first-year offensive coordinator sat down for an extended interview with jaguars.com Wednesday and though he didn’t exactly lay out sample game plans, he did further clarify what players have been indicating since offensive install began in mid-April: that this will be a decidedly more up-tempo, quarterback-friendly scheme than last year. We won’t get a full picture of the offense until the regular season, but Fisch said tempo will be a priority. That won’t mean constant no-huddle, but it will mean getting in and out of the huddle quickly in situations when the Jaguars aren’t in no-huddle and constantly playing at a quick pace to put pressure on the defense. Players are clearly excited about the offense moving forward and how it takes advantage of their players’ strengths. It remains to be seen how much improvement that will mean, but it appears it will look much different. Also notable has been the difference in the approach of putting in a playbook. Much was made last offseason of Head Coach Mike Mularkey and the other four coaches on staff who had been coordinators – Sylvester Croom, Bob Bratkowski, Jerry Sullivan and Greg Olsen – installing the offense page-by-page. This Jaguars’ offense? This is pretty much all Fisch, and he’s confident enough to be comfortable with that.

3) Full responsibility. Fisch covered a lot of ground in his conversation with jaguars.com, but perhaps most notable were his thoughts on the quarterback’s responsibility in his offense. He took time to make it clear beyond a whisper of a doubt that whoever starts at quarterback – and he gave no significant hint on that subject – the position will have freedom at the line of scrimmage. He said, too, he has emphasized this with the quarterbacks throughout the offseason. Fisch said some coordinators give that topic lip service, and then take away the freedom to make a call at the line of scrimmage come game time. He said his quarterbacks at the University of Miami were instructed to make certain calls when they saw certain reads at the line, and that they were expected to make those reads whatever the game situation – early in the first quarter or late in the fourth. He said there’s no reason to change that this season. Fisch said the reason for the approach is many-fold. One is that no one is in a better position make calls than the quarterback, and that that player should be so well-versed in the offense that he makes right decisions far more often than not. The whole approach, he said, is to get the player to “own” his situation. “The more they own, the harder they’ll work,” Fisch said.

2) What’s next? Two weeks remain in the offseason, with four organized team activities practices scheduled Tuesday through Friday next week followed by a three-day mandatory minicamp June 11-13. That will signal the end of the offseason program for veterans, though rookies will remain around the facility for two weeks after that. The questions on the minds of most observers – who will start at quarterback, who will take Justin Blackmon’s place the first four games, who will start along the defensive line – probably won’t get answered in the coming weeks. Though Head Coach Gus Bradley’s mantra is competition, competition, competition, he has made it clear that the nitty-gritty of the competition can’t and won’t begin until the pads go on in training camp. That’s true at quarterback and it’s obviously true along the lines. Areas of focus will continue to be cornerback and outside linebacker, as well as backup tight end and the starting wide receiver position opposite Cecil Shorts III for the first four games. You get the idea those storylines will remain strong through the end of minicamp and deep into training camp in mid-August.

1) And finally, a word on the quarterback. We’ll close this offense-oriented Fabulous Four not focusing on Blaine Gabbert or even Chad Henne, but with another part of the dynamic – that is, who truly is involved in the quarterback competition? Since the draft, many fans and observers have asked about Matt Scott and Jordan Rodgers, with some going further and assuming that one of the two aforementioned undrafted rookies will have a real chance to win the starting job. You never want to say never in the NFL, but to think that either Scott or Rodgers has a chance to make a serious push this offseason is to continually ignore reality. Rodgers won’t be practicing until at least training camp, and when Fisch discussed Scott this week he was very clear in describing him as a developmental guy with talent. “Not today,” Fisch replied when asked about Scott’s possibility to be in the mix. This is not to denigrate Scott, or to say he will never be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He very well could. But with two months remaining before training camp, the competition is between Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. It pretty much ends there, no matter how much people desperately want another player in the equation. They’re the ones sharing time in camp and they’re the ones getting significant repetitions. They’re the ones with a chance to be productive against NFL defenses next season. One of the two almost certainly will be starting Week 1. To expect more from Scott this season is to put unfair expectations on the player – and to ignore the reality of the situation.

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