(Sept. 11)—Now you've seen it. That's the Jaguars' new offense. Wadda you think?
It had a little bit of everything in it, didn't it? It opened with a flurry of passes, stirred in some trickery with Matt Jones, settled into a protect-the-lead mode with Fred Taylor and, just as advertised, took shots downfield.
Yeah, that's what you like best, isn't it? The Jaguars didn't dink and dunk. They didn't go sideways. They got yardage in big chunks, such as Jimmy Smith's 45-yard reception in the second quarter that led to a 30-yard touchdown catch. There was a 25-yard end-around run by Matt Jones, a 27-yard catch-and-run by George Wrighster and a 20-yarder to Reggie Williams.
All of this is why Jack Del Rio hired Carl Smith to be the team's new offensive coordinator. Del Rio wanted somebody who would end this team's miseries on offense. Del Rio wanted somebody who would give this team some pizzazz on offense without surrendering the physical element in which Del Rio so strongly believes.
Well, after one game, it can be said that Del Rio accomplished his mission.
"You saw some things that will allow us to generate more points this year. I don't think there's any question that this team will go over 30 (points) a lot," Del Rio said following Sunday's 26-14 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Hey, that's a bold statement. Over 30 points a lot? Just to add a little historical perspective, the last time the Jaguars scored 30 points in a game was in Minnesota on Dec. 23, 2001. That's 51 consecutive games without reaching the 30-point mark.
The Jaguars got close against the Seahawks. Had they punched it into the end zone one more time, they would've made it.
"Byron (Leftwich) was awesome. We had some opportunities downfield if we could've given him a split-second more time," Del Rio said.
Leftwich was on top of his game. So was Jimmy Smith. This was, however, Carl Smith's day. This was the day for which Smith and his offensive staff spent the offseason authoring an all-new playbook. This was the day for which Smith spent a whole preseason hiding that playbook. Sunday, Smith left no page unturned.
Do you have anything left in there? Del Rio was asked.
"Yeah, we've got quite a bit left," he said.
Jones was the feature attraction of Smith's creativity. In the Jags' first possession, after reaching the Seattle eight-yard line, Jones stepped in at quarterback. The crowd paused for a moment to rub their eyes, then came to its feet as though something cataclysmic was about to occur. Jones took the shotgun snap from center and ran around right end for three yards.
Cataclysmic? Are you kidding? It was, at that point, the Jaguars' least effective play of their opening drive. The buzz in the crowd, however, suggested that something special had just occurred.
This is what Jacksonville wants. It wants trick plays. No more three yards and a cloud of dust, right? OK, maybe three yards, just no dust, please.
Other tricks would follow. There was the Jones end-around play, and a play that began with a pitch to Jones and ended with a pitch from Jones – officially it was a pass – that gained six yards.
Did the Jaguars need these trick plays to beat the Seahawks? No. There is, however, a significance to them.
"We don't want to be pigeon-holed about how you prepare for this team," Del Rio said.
The trick plays are just a diversion. They take your mind off what the Jaguars really want to do, which is pound the ball between the tackles with Taylor and throw the ball down the field to Jimmy Smith. It's age-old stuff. It's the time-honored philosophy of offensive football. Carl Smith's genius will be his ability to make it all seem cutting-edge.
"Jags win, Jags win. That's our offense; scoring more than they do. Run it, throw it, whatever we can do," Smith said.
They don't want to be tagged. They want their identity to be that of a team that will do whatever it takes to win. If you think we're this, we'll do that. That's what they want their identity to be; that they don't have an identity.
Jones is the guy who might make this approach work. He has the kind of multi-dimensional skills that will allow Smith to get wild and crazy with his gameplan and his playbook, and nobody had ever previously accused Smith of being a wild and crazy guy.
"We just want to get the ball in his hands and we wanted to do it in the first game. We didn't want to find out in the 10th game that, oh, he's pretty good at that," Smith said of Jones. "We have to find out what else he can do."
That almost sounds threatening.