The debut of Blake Bortles was better than the scoreboard suggest against the San Diego Chargers. He was very efficient, going 29-37 for a touchdown. The rookie added 5 runs for 24 yards as well. That was a good performance he put on behind a weak offensive line. It didn’t help that he threw a pair of picks, but what do you really expect from a quarterback’s first start? You can only learn with experience, game film, and from the mistakes, but what was promising is how poised he looked throughout the game. That’s why the winless Jags should be optimistic, if anything, their first round QB is starting and learning in year 1.
The return home in week 5 to host the Pittsburgh Steelers. This could be the week they string four quarters together for their first win in 2014. The Steelers have been very inconsistent. Inconsistent week to week, and in a game like they were against the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They went up late before the hungry Bucs snatched the game with seconds left, thanks to a strong effort from both sides of the ball. Going into week 4, Pittsburgh was heavily favored at home with the #1 rushing attack in football. In week 3, they held down Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday Night Football. We know two things about them entering week 5, you can’t stop receiver Antonio Brown but they lead the league in penalties.
The plan is to win now, and the most explosive back on the team is Denard Robinson. Toby Gerhart has had a rough start on his new team, and received less snaps and touches than Robinson last week. Knowing that the O-line doesn’t get much push, they did enough to allow Bortles to drop 29 completions and use his legs to get out of trouble. I would turn to a spread offense, their offensive strength comes from their speed. That means putting Robinson in the backfield, and I would even go singleback or shotgun as the new base formation. They can the read-option as they please, but they need to put speed on the field. I wouldn’t necessarily rotate between Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and whoever is healthy on any given week. Cecil Shorts has only made a short cameo in 2014, and Marquise Lee got nicked up but is expected back. Shorts is an injury-prone guy anyway, he would be better utilized on limited snaps. The other trio are rookies, just like their QB. Tight End Marcedes Lewis had to block more because of the line struggles, but when he got to run routes he was really catching on as a weekly threat.
It’s time for the Jags to adjust to their talent, much like they’re doing with Bortles and the read-option plays. They are playing Robinson more, who is earning more snaps each week. They can still use Gerhart to spell or for short-yardage, or at the goal line. He just doesn’t have the line to pave the way, so the quicker Robinson makes more sense, as does an uptempo offense. They should be putting Denard Robinson in the backfield and Allen Robinson on the outside. Allen Hurns should be the #2 receiver playing in the slot, I mean he’s already shown his big play ability each week. Lee should return this week to play on the other side, and Shorts should rotate with him when he’s finally healthy again. Clay Harbor also made his debut at tight end after recovering from a calf injury. Bortles connected with him on all 8 targets for 69 yards. Harbor got some burn at tight end and in the slot for the Philadelphia Eagles to start his career, he’s definitely a better pass-catcher than a blocker so they should continue to use him. Use him at tight end with 3-wide receivers, or split him out wide in 4-wide sets too.
The Steelers defense consists of one of two types of players, older or inexperienced. The let Mike Glennon come into their house, in his first start of the season, to comeback and snatch TB’s first win of 2014.
That fix on offense will make life a lot easier for their last-ranked defense, considering the offense hasn’t done anything and the D gets worn out. In week 1 they blanked the Eagles offense in the first half. The good stats, they are second in the entire NFL with 12 sacks, so they have gotten after the quarterback as good as anyone when the game isn’t out of hand.