Jagodzinski To Bring Along Zone Blocking Scheme

January 29th, 2009
Warrick Dunn spent time with new Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski as a member of the Falcons

Warrick Dunn spent time with new Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski as a member of the Atlanta Falcons


Fox is a freelance sportswriter who has covered the NFL for years and written for many publications. He’s best known around JoeBucsFan.com headquarters as the guy who is 6-3 with his playoff picks.

It’s time for the Bucs’ offensive line to get ready to use its young legs and quickness.

New offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski is sure to install the zone blocking scheme he learned with the Falcons under legendary offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, who was Mike Shanahan’s guru behind Denver’s consistent running game year in the 1990s and beyond.

Jagodzinski brought that concept to Green Bay when he became offensive coordinator there in 2006. The Packers still run the zone-blocking running scheme, although the Packers also utilize a power run game from time to time depending on the down and distance. I expect the same approach here in Tampa Bay.

Zone blocking relies on linemen to work together to block players in their zone, rather than having an assignment, or a set guy to block.

Blockers come off the line together toward where the running back is headed, forcing double teams and holes. The runner must break hard and fine the crease. Think Terrell Davis. Cut blocks also are common in the scheme from the weak side.

Jagodzinski spent the last two years as head coach at Boston College, where he compiled a 20-8 record, including two 1st place finishes in the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Jagodzinski also helped the development of QB Matt Ryan, who had a fantastic rookie season for the Falcons this past season.

The Bucs new coordinator is a graduate of UW-Whitewater, where he played fullback. UW-Whitewater is in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and is quite well known now, as it has been in the NCAA Division III football championship game for four straight years (one D-III title in ’07).

Jagodzinski has coached at several different colleges including UW-Whitewater, Northern Illinois, LSU, East Carolina and Boston College, both as an assistant coach and as a head coach. Jags has also coached at the NFL level, where he was the offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons (2004-2005) and then as the offensive coordinator for  Green Bay in 2006. He was also on the Packers’ staff as tight ends coach for five seasons beginning with Ray Rhodes in 1999.

Besides developing Ryan at B.C. to become a exceptional rookie in the NFL, Jagodzinski also worked with a couple of quarterbacks with the Packers by the name of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

Favre had the worst season of his pro career in 2005, the year before Mike McCarthy and Jagodzinski came aboard. In 2006 Favre revived his game, cutting his interception total by 11 in 2006. Favre’s decision-making was much improved and the Packers narrowly missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

Jagodzinski also helped develop Rodgers. Rodgers improved extensively in 2006 over 2005, when he was a rookie. In 2006, he had a strong pre-season campaign including one game against Atlanta when he threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns. Obviously, the training under Jagodzinki and McCarthy has paid off, as Rodgers is one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL. He threw 28 TDs to just 13 interceptions for 4,038 yards and a QB rating of 93.8in 2008.Time will tell how Jagodzinski will do with the Bucs offense, as the running scheme will certainly be changed.

But more important, Jagodzinski’s history of working with young quarterbacks will be vital to the long term success of the Bucs offense and the new regime.

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