KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Midway through an NFL season, teams normally hold a firm scouting report on the competition. But the Jacksonville Jaguars bring a new offensive coordinator and a new attitude to Kansas City Sunday, which means uncertainty to Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson.
“We really don’t know what they’re going to do,” Johnson said. “We’ll find that out during the game, what’s the flavor of the week type deal.”
Coach Gus Bradley’s decision to dismiss former offensive coordinator Gregg Olson and promote Nathaniel Hackett comes with the Jacksonville offensive mired near the bottom of the league. Hackett hopes to breath new life into the team’s offense while providing struggling young quarterback Blake Bortles with a fresh start.
Hackett knows Arrowhead Stadium well. He spent his high school years in Kansas City where his father, Paul, served as offensive coordinator for the Chiefs under coach Marty Schottenheimer. Hackett attended Blue Valley Northwest High School.
“I actually got really lucky because I got to go to high school in Kansas City that whole time,’’ Hackett said his introductory press conference as Jacksonville’s new quarterbacks coach last year. “I got spoiled rotten.’’
The Jaguars rank 26th with 330.6 yards per game, 30th in rushing yards and dead-last in third-down conversion rate at just 30.3 percent. That leaves Hackett with plenty of room to improve the team’s offensive performance, particularly the team’s running game.
“That’s something I’ve always loved,” Hackett said said in his first press conference as offensive coordinator. “I learned it from a very, very young age being around some of the very, very great running backs growing up as a kid. The quarterback’s best friend is the run game.”
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton expects to see a Jaguars team relying more on the run.
“We expect them to run the football obviously,” Sutton said. “It’s like any game. If you don’t demonstrate to the opponent you can stop the run, probably going to keep getting smacked in the mouth with it until you stop it.”
The Jaguars stand 2-5 on the season, and the losing took a toll on Bortles. The quarterback brought in a private coach this week, Adam Dedeaux, to work on improving his throwing release and mechanics.
It’s one of those things where I go work with those guys in the offseason and feeling good,” Bortles said, “and then, I get away from them, and no matter how much stuff you retain and you remember and continue to go through, there’s always a couple things you forget.”
Bortles believes Hackett brings a spark to an offense lacking in results of devoid of the joy the the squad felt last year while talling more than 4,440 yards passing.
“We’ve got to find a way to get back to that, find our groove,” Bortles said, “and I think Nathaniel Hackett is the perfect spark plug to kind of get us back to that, back to enjoying football, back to having fun and making plays.”
Johnson, who experience his own coaching changes over the courage of his 12-year career, expects a different Jaguars team on Sunday.
“Trust me, they’re going to come in there with a lot of confidence trying to pick up something, trying to pick up the pieces,” Johnson said.
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and the Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.