Two oft-asked questions from fans to "Ask Vic" may be inexorably linked. In fact, the answer to the second question may provide the answer to the first one.
Question number one: What are the Jaguars going to do about the dismal performance of their first team offense in this year's preseason?
Question number two: What impact will Mike Tice have on the Jaguars offense this year?
First, let's provide a little background.
The Jaguars have been sluggish on offense in this preseason. That's an undeniable fact. Byron Leftwich and the passing game have struggled and against the Bucs' first team defense last Saturday Leftwich played poorly.
Jaguars fans, of course, are sick with worry. They're worried that the offense's performance in the preseason is a preview of the regular season. Panicked fans are already calling for the heads of nearly everyone on the offensive side of the ball.
I'm not gonna tell you there isn't reason for concern. It bothers me, too, that the same offense that struggled to get a first down against Tampa's number one defense, moved the ball with ease against Tampa's two's. What that immediately tells me is a lack of execution wasn't the problem. The execution was just fine against the two's, right? The problem, therefore, must be the personnel.
That would be the logical conclusion and I don't think anyone could be faulted for embracing that logic, but I will also caution you, again, not to draw conclusions based on preseason games. Why not? Because teams do not put their best foot forward in the preseason. In fact, the good teams try hardest to put their worst foot forward in the preseason.
Let's go back to question number one: What are the Jaguars going to do about the dismal performance of their first team offense, which probably won't even play in Thursday's preseason finale in Atlanta?
Answer: They're going to do things they didn't do in the preseason.
Now let's go back to question number two: What impact will Tice have on the Jaguars offense?
Answer: The tight end will become a player of major importance and I believe the answer to question number two is also the answer to question number one.
Now that the Jaguars have lost their starting fullback for the season, Tice's impact will be especially noticeable. It's this reporter's opinion that Tice's handprint is going to be all over the Jaguars offense this year.
The guy was a former tight end, right? He was the head coach of a Vikings team that did as much or more with the tight end as any team in the league. And what did the Jaguars draft in the first round? A tight end, right?
Put it all together, folks, and I think we're going to see a Jaguars offense in the regular season that we haven't seen in the preseason. We're going to see the tight end used as an H-back to help mitigate the effects of having lost Greg Jones for the season. Look at how the Vikings used Jim Kleinsasser and Jermaine Wiggins.
The Jaguars have a strong cast of tight ends. Kyle Brady is the consummate blocking tight end. He's the guy who'll make the running game go. First-round pick Marcedes Lewis has the pass-catching skills of a Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. George Wrighster has been fantastic this summer and immediately qualifies for an increased role. Todd Yoder missed last season with a knee injury but he's back and he offers distinct H-back potential.
Tice wasn't hired to keep the head coach company. You don't waste what a guy of Tice's experience and expertise can bring to the table. So why do you think we haven't seen much of it in the preseason?
Because it's the preseason.