Mini-camp ended on Monday morning with a burst of energy and anticipation for the offense new coordinator Dirk Koetter is installing. Head coach Jack Del Rio labeled it "quarterback-friendly," quarterback Byron Leftwich gave it his seal of approval and veteran running back Fred Taylor is staying in town the next two weeks to make sure he fully understands it.
"I'm dedicated," Taylor said with a wry smile when asked why he has decided to remain with the team through the next two weeks of OTA practices. "I just want to be around the fellas. I've been away," he added.
Taylor did not attend voluntary OTA's last spring, electing to remain in South Florida with his family. He missed the first three OTA's of this year's spring season, but said he will be in attendance for the next five before deciding whether or not to head home.
"We're going to play it by ear. I don't want to get too far away from my stuff, but I want to catch up with the offense. I feel next week, being here, will be long enough for me to learn the system," Taylor said.
Taylor's news was more reason for Del Rio to smile when he met reporters following Monday's practice. Mini-camp was a thumbs-up event for Del Rio and his team; especially for the offense.
"We're going to look for vertical opportunities," Del Rio said when asked to describe the offense Koetter is installing. "We're going to use the tight end. Everything we're doing with our offense is quarterback-friendly. Everything is seen through his eyes. I'm really excited about the direction Dirk's taking our offense."
In mini-camp, the Jaguars displayed a lot of four-wide receiver sets. They also threw the ball often to the tight end on deep seam routes. It's an offense that could make 2006 first-round draft pick Marcedes Lewis a featured performer.
Del Rio didn't stop there. When pressed for further comment, he said: "What we're doing is making it as black and white for offense as it has always been for our defense. I've always believed in making it as black and white as possible, so you can let the guys go play. Eliminate the gray, and then go out and execute."
The Jaguars had the league's second-ranked running game but 24th-ranked pass-offense last season. The combination left the Jaguars 10th overall.
"It allows me to do things I like to do. It allows me to attack downfield. That's how I believe football should be played and (Koetter) does, too," Leftwich said of the new offensive scheme.
"The way I look at it is that's my fault," Leftwich added of the number 24 ranking in pass-offense. "That's my responsibility to make sure I'm out there so those guys (receivers) can make plays."
Leftwich was lost for the season with an ankle injury following the sixth game of the season. A week-five blowout win over the Jets was the last game before Leftwich became hobbled. The Jaguars' pass-offense was 16th in the league following the win over the Jets. Following a loss in Houston in the Jaguars' next game, the pass-offense had fallen to 24th.
"The perception is we had a bad offensive football team. That's not true. We were in the top 10. Everything wasn't bad. We just have to make sure we improve the passing game and that's my responsibility," he said.
"I am convinced all of our guys are energized by the direction and are working hard to make this a special year, and Byron is part of that equation," Del Rio said.