JACKSONVILLE – Jay Gruden said the questions are good ones.
Just how crazy is crazy? And how realistic is getting really crazy?
Gruden, the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, discussed that Wednesday afternoon – a little more than a week after Head Coach Doug Marrone made news by saying he planned to try some crazy "stuff" the rest of the 2020 season.
"That's always the toughest thing for me as an offensive coach," Gruden said Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-6) prepared to play the Houston Texans (1-6) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.
Gruden, speaking on his weekly videoconference with the media, said realistically an offensive coordinator isn't going to be too "outside the box" without heavy discussion with the head coach, and he also said failing when thinking outside the box is difficult for a play-caller.
Gruden cited a failed fourth-and-1 play in the team's last meeting with the Texans, a play in which rookie running back James Robinson fumbled while rolling out to pass.
"You want to make sure the coach signs off on some crazy stuff you want to try," Gruden said. "You just feel like a basket case afterwards for a week [when a trick play doesn't work], so it kind of dampens your spirit to put more stuff in. But you want to try to get your players out there, give them success on things they know and can do.
"Obviously, we'll always have some kind of trick or some kind of diversionary type play in our playbook. Whether it gets called or not we'll never know."
Gruden said the reality is craziness isn't as important as executing basics.
"You always want to have someone to try to create the big play, but you don't want to panic and have to rely on that," he said. "You want these guys to make plays, let the linemen move people on the front, let James Robinson hit the holes, let's punish them a little bit, let our receivers get open in man-to-man, and the quarterback read zones and make some plays. Then, if the time's right and Coach Marrone's up for it, we'll try a sprinkle or two in."
Gruden on Wednesday was asked if he might have to simplify the game plan Sunday with rookie Jake Luton making his first NFL start. Gruden: "I think there's something to that. I think you're probably a little bit limited, but we've had [second-year quarterback] Gardner [Minshew II] starting … it's his first year in this offense, too. It's not like we're doing a whole lot of crazy stuff with him. As we move on throughout the season, we have to add different plays and different concepts depending on who we play – handling different blitz looks and different protections. Each week gives you a different game plan. We have to be aware of it. We have to adjust, and we have to move on. We can't run the same 12 plays like you might be able to do in college week-in and week-out. We have to be able to change our progressions, change our reads, change our personnel groups, change our formations. That's part of the game. You have to study it. That's what quarterbacks have to do."
Gruden on the role Robinson will play Sunday in Luton's first NFL start: "That will be key – like it is in every game. We want to stay balanced and have the ability to work different type of protections and play-action passes and all that stuff. But those are only good on first and second down. You get to third and eight or you get behind a lot, you're one-dimensional. That's going to be critical. James is going to be a big part of our game plan for sure. We have to get him going."
Weak-side linebacker Myles Jack (ankle) was among Jaguars players – all starters – who practiced limited Wednesday with the others being right guard A.J. Cann (shoulder), center Brandon Linder (hip), cornerback Sidney Jones IV (ribs) and safety Jarrod Wilson (hamstring); Jack and Cann both missed the final game before the Jaguars' Week 8 bye week with the injuries. … Linebacker Dakota Allen (ankle), running back Devine Ozigbo (hamstring) and Minshew II (right thumb) all missed practice Wednesday, as did tight end Tyler Eifert (neck/scheduled day off) and rookie cornerback Josiah Scott (not injury related).