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Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars - LIVE: Skipper to focus on basics


JACKSONVILLE – The decision wasn't difficult for Kelly Skipper.

Not that changing jobs is easy in the NFL – and in Skipper's case, this change meant changing coasts. But if those were cons, there also was a definite pro:

The chance to keep working with Greg Olson.

Skipper, the Oakland Raiders' running backs coach the past six seasons, last week was hired by the Jaguars in the same position. Skipper spent the past two seasons working under Olson, who spent the last two seasons as the Raiders' coordinator.

"That was one of the reasons I came here with Oley (Olson)," Skipper said Wednesday afternoon during an appearance on LIVE. "I was familiar with his system, how we're going to call things and what type of identity we're going to work for and strive for."

Skipper, a veteran of 26 years coaching including eight in the NFL, described Olson as a "hard worker."

"He's always trying to find ways to move the football and he's very detailed in what he does," Skipper said. "He's going to always put our guys in position."

Skipper said that's the coaching staff's focus this week. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley following last season dismissed offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, hiring not only Olson and Skipper since then, but assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach Doug Marrone and quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett.

"We're trying to identify the players and our skill set so that we can find a true identity," Skipper said.

Skipper, 47, worked eight seasons in Oakland, working two years as the tight ends coach and the past six seasons as running backs coach. He worked under Head Coach Lane Kiffin in 2007-2008, then under Tom Cable from 2008-2010 and Hue Jackson in 2011.

He then worked under Dennis Allen from 2012 until early this season.

"I think it was great that I met a lot of different coaches, and I learned a lot of different offenses," Skipper said. "There's some versatility in my coaching also, learning different systems and how you call things."

Skipper in Jacksonville will work with a group that currently includes not only starter Denard Robinson, but veteran Toby Gerhart, Jordan Todman and 2014 seventh-round selection Storm Johnson. Robinson developed into a starter last season in his first full season at the position, with Gerhart also starting seven games in his first season with the Jaguars after four seasons as a backup with the Minnesota Vikings.

"We're fortunate to have a lot of different styles," Skipper said. "We have some versatility at the running back position. You have to look at their strengths and weaknesses. You want to build toward being a complete back. We have a couple of players who are transitioning to the position, so you have to start with the basics – how to get in a stance and how to carry a football …

"Those are the foundation, so starting with that, that's how you work to develop a player into being a complete running back."

Skipper said his philosophy as a position coach centered on treating players "like family."

"If they can trust and cooperate with you, I think you can motivate a player to do a lot of different things," he said. "The goal is always to develop a complete running back."

And while much of developing a complete player at the position involves blocking, blitz pickup and making sure a player has an understanding of the entire offense, he said there are ways to improve a player's run production.

"I played the position, so I have a pretty good feel for how your instincts should work," said Skipper, who played running back for Fresno State, where he also coached from 1989 through 1997. "But it's always helpful to know exactly what the blocking scheme is.

"You have to understand on each play what the assignment is, what the lineman is doing, how I'm going to approach the line of scrimmage … am I in our out on a certain read? What if the defensive end goes this way?"

Skipper comes from a family of running backs coaches. His father, Jim, has coached the position 28 seasons in the NFL and currently is the running backs coach with Carolina. His brother, Tim, joined the University of Florida staff last month as a running backs coach.

"I've been fortunate with my father coaching," Skipper said. "He didn't pressure me into getting into coaching, but I felt I wanted to be close to the game and give back to players. It's just good to see guys be successful.

"There are going to be some pressures and that sort of thing. I told my wife when we got married, 'We're going to move around. It's part of the profession.' … It's my first time being on the East Coast, but I have moved around a bit. I've been in different cities, but it's great to be here. I can't wait to get going."

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