Jacksonville Jaguars (Offensive Coordinator, 2007-2011)
In 2007, Koetter took over as the offensive coordinator in Jacksonville. The Jaguars had immediate success, going 11-5 and finishing second in the AFC South before falling in the AFC Divisional Round to the Patriots. One of the keys behind that success? A two-headed threat in the backfield. Fred Taylor led the way with 1,202 yards and five touchdowns on 223 carries (5.4 yards per carry). Maurice Jones-Drew contributed 768 yards and nine touchdowns on 167 carries (4.6 yards per carry).
Jacksonville totaled 2,391 yards on the ground, which was good for second in the league. The efficiency on the ground helped out quarterback David Garrard, who threw for 2,509 yards and eighteen touchdowns to just three interceptions. The offense as a whole finished sixth in the league in points per game. Things took a turn for the worse in 2008 when Taylor totaled just 556 yards and one score and Jones-Drew went for 824 and twelve. Garrard threw for about 1,000 more yards, but also saw his touchdown to interception ratio fall to fifteen to thirteen. The result? A 5-11 record and a last-place finish in the AFC South.
2009 and 2010 were interesting cases, as Jacksonville featured Jones-Drew as the sole threat. He ran for 1,391 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2009 before going for 1,324 yards and five scores in 2010. Those numbers are solid, obviously, but the second-leading rusher in both years finished with under 500 yards. The Jaguars went 7-9 and 8-8 in those years, with Garrard having respectable but not stellar seasons.
Jones-Drew had another monster year in 2011, totaling 1,606 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. But again, like 2009 and 2010, there was no real secondary threat. In fact, the second-leading rusher was even more absent as Deji Karim ran for just 130 yards. New quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw twelve touchdowns to eleven interceptions and Jacksonville’s offense finished dead last in points per game. That led to a dismal 5-11 finish.
Thoughts on Jacksonville tenure
Throughout his time with the Jaguars, Koetter got a mixed bag of results. His offense was at its best in 2007, when he got big-time contributions from two running backs. That opened things up for his quarterback to have a nice year, one that didn’t include many turnovers. The offensive success obviously translated to team success as Jacksonville went on to record double-digit wins and a playoff appearance. After that year, though, things went downhill. Maurice Jones-Drew stayed pretty consistent, but the lack of a productive No. 2 back limited Koetter’s offense. Without a diverse rushing attack, the quarterback’s interception total increased, likely due to some forced throws and overcompensation for backfield struggles. Does that sound familiar, Bucs fans?
Overall, Koetter’s time in Jacksonville demonstrated pretty clearly what a good rushing attack can do for his offense. It also gave a glimpse at how much more effective his unit can be with two productive backs.