Kelly Skipper is the Jaguars' running back coach, and has been since 2015. Prior to being hired in Jacksonville, he was the running backs coach in Oakland under Dennis Allen. He has over 20 years of coaching experience, with stops in places like Fresno State, UCLA, and Washington State.
KB: What metrics are you using to evaluate the running backs with cuts next week?
KS: Well, we’re trying to give everybody an opportunity, guys are working to get better. We just want to make sure of what they’re doing in the game, if they’re executing the plays at the standards that they’re looking for.
KB: When it comes to preseason games, how do you evaluate one running back's success against another's?
KS: There’s going to be different flows of the game…are you making the right runs, are you making plays in the run and the pass game, are you blocking in the protections…those are the three areas you’re really trying to concentrate on when you evaluate them. Are they executing in the run, are the executing in the pass…those are the biggest things.
KB: How does your evaluation change based on the personnel quality of the defense you go against in a preseason game?
KS: It doesn’t really. It’s all about us. We’re not really worried about the defense. Can you make plays? It doesn’t matter who you’re going against, you’re going to do the same thing. So that’s what you’re looking for, can you execute the technique, and then make it happen on the field.
KB: Where do you stand on how many running backs will make the roster?
KS: I’m not sure yet. Special teams will weigh heavily into it. Hopefully we have some guys that are contributing on special teams. and the final numbers will determine that.
KB: How confident are you that you have the three or four guys you want to select?
KS: Well, evaluation is constant, we’re still going through the process right now. We’ve still got two more games left, and at the end, we’ll try to sum it up and pick the best players that we can to help us win.
KB: How do you evaluate the running backs with all the offensive lineman moving around so much?
KS: Well, it’s all about doing your job. Are you executing your assignments? That’s what we’re looking for, we’re not worried about anybody else. We’re just making sure that, in our room, that the running backs are taking care of business, and that’s the biggest thing you want to do.
KB: So it doesn’t change when Luke Joeckel is moving between left guard and left tackle, and Kelvin Beachum hasn’t played much left tackle?
KS: Not right now. In training camp, you’ve got the whole playbook to focus on. We’re trying to learn the plays and trying to execute, so you’re more focused on what you can do right now, and make sure you do your job, and everything else will take care of itself.
KB: When it comes to our checklist, be it pass protection, yards per carry, yards after contact etc., what's most important to you?
KS: We’re trying to do well in all phases of the run game, and all phases of the pass game, we’re trying to make sure we execute in all that. Sometimes though, there’s going to be a guy with a unique attribute, so we’re trying to weigh all that in and see what the right pieces are, to make sure we have the right group that we need to win.