New Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski has been calling plays for a long time in the NFL, and there’s good reason for that: he knows what it takes to get the job done.
Bratkowski got his first job as a player with the Seattle Seahawks in 1995, and he held that job until 1998. Three years later, the San Angelo native was hired by the Bengals as their offensive coordinator for what would become a decade long tenure. After a year of serving as Matt Ryan’s position coach Bratkowski is back calling plays, and he’ll have his hands full with the Jaguars offense.
During his time with the Bengals, Bratkowski was known for his ability to adapt to the talent on the roster (although one could also argue that he sometimes went away from it). He was willing to change his offensive philosophy and identity, switching from run heavy to pass heavy and vica versa.
He often featured a single running back in the backfield and several run concepts to punish defenses. When the Bengals ran the ball, they liked to utilize the Lead Run concept, which Bratowski did by using a Wing (sometimes a tight end, sometimes an extra tackle) as a lead blocker, and depending on which side of the ball you’re on, the famous or infamous Inside Zone concept.
A quality running game is big for Bratkowski because it helps set up the play action passing game, which is key to his offense. He did a good job in Cincinnati of working the play action off of the aforementioned run concepts by setting it up with motion and then faking the hand-off.
When Carson Palmer, who was the Bengals quarterback at the time, would run the play action, Bratkowski would often have his pass catchers, most notably Chad Ochocinco, run deep Dig routes into the middle field. They then usually settled in behind the linebackers and in front of the safety.
With Chad Ochocinco running a deep dig route (15 to 18 yards), the opposite receiver, often T.J. Houshmanzadeh, would either run a Post pattern that got him in behind the safeties or a Post-Corner route with an inside vertical stem that broke back to the outside. The Post-Dig concept is one of the most popular forms of passing the ball in the NFL because it draws the safeties up to the Dig route and allows the deep ball to be thrown over them to the receiver running the Post route.
The offensive philosophy of Bratkowski changed at the start of the 2010-11 season when it went from run heavy to pass heavy after having issues in the previous season passing the ball.
The passing game saw a lot of five-step drops from Palmer and a variety of formations that included stacked Twin (two receivers stacked from a tight split) and Trips (three receivers to one side) sets. Bratkowski also moved the chess pieces of the Bengals offense around, with the tight end aligning in the backfield at times.
In Jacksonville, we’re likely to see a ball control offense that features a lot of power running with Maurice Jones-Drew (come back Maurice!) and play action passing, with a heavy dose of Blaine Gabbert rolling out of the pocket. Pocket movement is one of Gabbert’s strengths and something that Ryan did often under the guidance of Mike Mularkey and Bratkowski — both of whom are now in Jacksonville.