Derrick Ward’s Been A Target For Years

March 5th, 2009

By BOB FOX analyst

Long before he was a 1,000-yard rusher, Derrick Ward was in the sights of Bucs O-coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski

The new Derrick Ward-Jeff Jagodzinski marriage is a relationship that was brewing three years ago.

When Mike McCarthy was named head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 2006, one of his first moves was to bring in Jagodzinski, the current Bucs offensive coordinator, to be his O-coordinator in Green Bay.  McCarthy wanted to bring the zone-blocking running scheme to blend in with the West Coast offense passing scheme already employed.
Jagodzinski was a zone-blocking guru after learning the scheme from Alex Gibbs in Atlanta while “Jags” was there from 2004-2005. The Packers used Ahman Green that year as the main back in the scheme before he left as a free agent to the Houston Texans. Green gained over 1,000 yards in his 2006, his last year as a Packer in that scheme.
Green wasn’t the only one who left after the 2006 season. Jagodzinski also left to become head coach at Boston College.
After Green and Jagodzinski left, the Packers scouting department looked for draft prospects that would fit the zone-blocking scheme, as well as current NFL players.
Part of that search became a trade where the Packers sent a sixth-round draft choice to the New York Giants for Ryan Grant. The Packers also were targeting the Giants’ Derrick Ward, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, believing he was suited, along with Grant, for the zone-blocking scheme.

The Packers deemed the cost for acquiring Ward was too high, the Sentinel reported, and they proceeded to make the deal for Grant instead. The move turned out well, as Grant has shown in his two years in Green Bay that he is a perfect back for the scheme.

Ward has the speed and strong-running style, plus pass-catching ability perfectly suited to the scheme, said Bucs general manager Mark Dominik, speaking Wednesday on 620 AM, The Sports Animal.
Based on part of the 2007 season, where Ward gained over 600 yards in half of a season and last year where Ward gained over 1,000 yards as the primary back up to Brandon Jacobs, the proof is in the pudding. Plus, Ward is an excellent receiver and blocker as well.

Dominik said Jagodzinski and the “ZBS” is the reason Ward is here.
Bucs fans should be ecstatic.

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