Shotgun, spread offense helping Jags

Bill Musgrave's tweaks to the Jacksonville offense have already benefited QB Byron Leftwich.

Updated: October 26, 2004, 6:19 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Jimmy Smith
Wide Receiver
Jacksonville Jaguars
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
33 586 2 17.8 65 81
Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith thought offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was crazy for saying the offense would finish in the top three after a three-week start in which it was last in league statistics. Taking advantage of shotgun formations and three-receiver sets, Byron Leftwich has averaged 318 yards passing and the offense is averaging 407 yards in the last four games, now ranking 15th overall. Musgrave's next goal is to incorporate Fred Taylor more and get 50 additional yards from a rushing attack that is averaging 98.9 a game.

Role models

Though his fantasy fans might not agree, Duce Staley loves the roles evolving in the Steelers backfield. Staley is the featured back, averaging 97 yards and 21 carries. Jerome Bettis gets the touchdown glory, being seven for nine in goal-line situations. Bettis says his vision from being a career inside runner makes him the right fit for the decision-making needed at the goal line. Staley doesn't miss the touchdowns because he's getting 20 carries a game for the first time since 1999.

Bonus coverage

The Ravens say Deion Sanders already has exceeded expectations for what he's giving them as a third cornerback, occasional receiver and return specialist. The plan was for him to take 30 snaps a game, but he had 41 Sunday against the Bills with no signs of wear on his hamstring. The Ravens marvel at how Sanders' reasonably small feet (size 9½) add to his speed, but his big hands make him adept at catching the ball.

Sweet 16

The amazing part of the Vikings' NFL record streak of 16 consecutive games with a 4.0 team rushing average is that they've done it with four different backs -- Michael Bennett, Moe Williams, Onterrio Smith and Mewelde Moore. The record was 14 by the 1964-65 Browns, led by Jim Brown, and the 75-76 Steelers, led by Franco Harris. The Vikings design a simple running scheme, knowing Randy Moss draws an extra safety to pass coverage. Even without Moss, who missed all but two plays in Sunday's win over the Titans, Moore, the slippery rookie runner from Tulane, ran for 138 yards with a safety back in coverage.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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