Jacksonville is enjoying its new offense
The Jaguars are trying to improve on an offense that finished 29th in the league in scoring last season.
Published: Sunday, May 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 30, 2005 at 9:28 p.m.
JACKSONVILLE - When quarterback Byron Leftwich first saw Jacksonville's new playbook a few weeks ago, he immediately called running back Fred Taylor.
"This is going to be fun," Leftwich said.
"Yeah, there's some good stuff in there," Taylor responded.
Leftwich, Taylor and the rest of the Jaguars have been even more impressed after seeing the system in action during minicamp Friday and Saturday.
"The offense is about just letting the receivers get down the field and make some plays," backup quarterback David Garrard said. "That's definitely something that's been lacking here the last couple of years."
The Jaguars finished last in the AFC and 29th in the league in scoring last season, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was fired two days after the season.
Musgrave was blamed for not getting the most out of an offense that featured Leftwich, Taylor and receiver Jimmy Smith. The Jags struggled all season in the red zone, on third downs and in short-yardage situations.
Coach Jack Del Rio replaced Musgrave with Southern California quarterbacks coach Carl Smith, who tutored Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart last season and helped the Trojans win the national championship.
Smith has coached 12 years in college, three in the USFL and 17 in the NFL. He has worked with such pocket passers as Tim Couch in Cleveland, Drew Bledsoe in New England and Jim Everett in New Orleans.
When Smith introduced the Jaguars to his offense, the first thing he told them was, "We're going to go for it."
So far, so good. The numerous deep balls have been the highlight of the three-day minicamp.
"Instead of scoring on 11- and 12-play drives, let's score on one play," said Jimmy Smith, who was admittedly frustrated in Musgrave's system. "The previous offense wasn't a vertical system, and I think we all realized that. In that type of system, it gives the defense more opportunities to create a turnover or for us to have a penalty and for something to go bad rather than going for the throat."
The Jaguars should have the personnel to make the offense work, too, especially after drafting big-play receivers in the first round the last two years.
Reggie Williams, the ninth overall pick in 2004, caught just 27 passes for 268 yards despite starting every game last season. But the 6-foot-4 wideout has slimmed down, sped up and been one of the offensive stars of the minicamp.
Ernest Wilford, a fourth-round pick last year, Cortez Hankton and Troy Edwards also have looked sharp. And this year's first-round selection, speedy Arkansas quarterback-turned-receiver Matt Jones, showed glimpses of brilliance before straining a hamstring Friday.
"We have some talented wide receivers, some guys that can make plays," Del Rio said. "Certainly as a football team we need to throw it and catch it better. Everybody knows that, and we will."
OFFENSE on Page 11C
Continued from 1C
Talent is in place
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