Jacksonville Takes Their Offense to New Heights

Jacksonville has made some significant changes to their offense for the 2005 campaign after falling short of the playoffs last year. Ed Thompson looks at how those changes could impact the 2005 AFC South title race.

As the Colts focused on improving their defense during the offseason, the Jaguars made noteworthy additions that will certainly improve their offense so that they are in better position to challenge the Colts for the AFC South title in 2005.

Jacksonville has a new offensive coordinator -- Carl Smith -- who plans to move the offense away from the short, quick West Coast style passing game to one that emphasize a strong running attack paired up with a deep passing game. Smith wants to take better advantage of WRs Jimmy Smith, Troy Edwards, Reggie Williams and their #1 draft pick, Matt Jones out of Arkansas.

Jones will be especially tough to defend with his 6'6 height and the 4.37 40-yard dash speed that he displayed at the NFL Combine. The Associated Press noted his "spectacular debut" at the Jags' recent mini-camp prior to a minor problem he experienced with his hamstring. QB Byron Leftwich is clearly thrilled to have Jones in the receiving corps after watching him pull in practically every pass tossed his way.

Vic Ketchman at jaguars.com says, "Jones is an intriguing player who has the kind of star potential that could put the Jaguars over the top and into the playoffs."

Out of the four Jaguars primary receivers, only Edwards (5'10) is less than 6-foot tall. Smith (6'1) and Williams (6'4) provide two more tall targets for Leftwich in addition to Jones.

There's no doubt that the downfield passing attack is becoming a focal point not just because of the added height to the Jaguars receiving corps, but also because the Jaguars feel they aren't taking advantage of the full skill set of their top receiver.

"You'll see the ball go vertically," Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio said. "Carl said he'll go for it. Jimmy Smith is one of the elite deep-ball receivers in the league and we're going to utilize that."

With the Jags projected to be the Colts' main nemesis in this year's race for the AFC South title, Indianapolis' use of their first two picks to bolster their secondary is making even more sense than ever before. Last year's starters, Jason David (5'8) and Nick Harper (5'10) give up a huge height advantage to a player like Jones. Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden reduce that advantage with their 6'0 - 6'1 height and their ability to jam the receivers at the line of scrimmage with their physical style of play.

But if the Jags receivers get loose and go deep more often, the Colts will be at a big height disadvantage against someone like Jones with Bob Sanders (5'8) and Mike Doss (5'10) defending the deep routes.

The Jaguars finished the season ranked #21 offensively, 19th in pass offense. Expect that rating to improve with the 2005 version of the Jacksonville Jaguars offense.

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