Training Camp 2020: Gruden says offense "in a good spot…"

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Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is seen during an NFL football workout, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (Logan Bowles via AP)

JACKSONVILLE – Jay Gruden has a good feeling about the growth these days.

After saying the offense was still in "diapers" earlier in the month, the Jaguars' offensive coordinator on Friday made clear the unit is progressing as planned as 2020 Training Camp nears a close.

"We're in a good spot right now," he said.

Gruden, hired this past offseason, spoke to the media via videoconference before practice Friday. Less than two weeks before, he talked of an offense very much still learning – with the team's offseason program having featured no on-field work because of COVID-19.

Gruden didn't call the offense a completed work Friday, but he said he feels good about the players' grasp of it – and quarterback Gardner Minshew agreed.

"It's been a great process, learning the offense and getting into it with everybody," Minshew said following an hour-and-twenty-minute practice Friday at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex. "I think we're at a point now where a lot of the heavy lifting is done.

"Now, it's going to be more fine-tuning, game planning and us getting the finer points ready for Indianapolis. I feel really good about it."

The Jaguars are scheduled to play host to the Indianapolis Colts in the 2020 regular-season opener at TIAA Bank Field September 13. With the NFL not holding preseason games this season, that will be Gruden's first in-game situation with Minshew and the rest of the offense.

That has made the past three weeks – particularly the contact, padded work the last two weeks – key, and Gruden said he liked what he has learned about what is mostly a young offense.

"We're coming along good as a whole," Gruden said.

Gruden, the Washington Football Team head coach from 2014-2019, spent 2011-2013 as the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. His West-Coast base schemes typically emphasize the quarterback making quick decisions and throwing quickly, which could benefit Minshew in his first full season as an NFL starter. Gruden also is known for utilizing multiple formations and personnel groupings to create positive matchups for skill players.

Gruden during the virtual offseason program spoke of training camp being critical because he needed repetitions to see what Jaguars players did and didn't do well in his scheme. He said Friday he likes how players have responded in recent weeks.

"As a whole offensively, we've got a lot in," he said. "These guys are doing a great job in the running game adjusting to the different types of schemes we run – obviously in the passing game the different protections, different drops, the different sets we're going…"

Another step toward the regular season: A scrimmage Saturday morning at TIAA Bank Field, which will be as close to a game-like experience as the team gets before playing Indianapolis. Gruden said he wants to see great tempo and urgency from the offense Saturday with good execution.

"We're still in the process of evaluating players," Gruden said. "We want to try to get players in different spots to see what they can do – young players, veteran players. I'm still getting to know these guys and trying to figure out their strengths and weaknesses – and make sure we correct their weakness and adhere to their strengths.

"It's still a feel-out period, but I think we can go a lot faster and give these guys some plays that they know and see how they execute, then handle our evaluation period – which is most important right now."

Gruden said he likes the progress Minshew has made in their first camp together and said Minshew has the "meat and potatoes of the offense."

"We're putting one block on top of the other right now," Gruden said. "He's doing a good job. We just have to continue to develop some consistency with his reads, his footwork, his protection knowledge … all of that stuff that the quarterback has to handle. … I've been impressed with him."

Which is pretty much how Gruden said about the offense as a whole has responded in recent weeks.

"I feel really good about it as far as what we have in," he said. "We're trying to give these guys opportunities – one, to showcase their skills so we can evaluate them properly; and two, to put a system together so we can go out and play Indianapolis and have a chance to really go after them.

"It's been impressive. We're where we want to be offensively. Obviously, we have room to grow and get better and out some more stuff in. But from an install standpoint, these guys are where I want them to be."

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