Cómo Christian Kirk puede ganar su contrato como receptor principal de los Jaguars

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Los Jacksonville Jaguars lograron un gran acuerdo esta temporada baja para adquirir su versión de un receptor N° 1 en Christian Kirk de los Arizona Cardinals. ¿Firmar a Kirk con un contrato de cuatro años y $72 millones que podría valer hasta $84 millones, con $37 millones totalmente garantizados, dados los números de carrera de Kirk en ofensivas con muchos pases? Eso sorprendió a muchos.

El argumento para el acuerdo, si lo hay: los receptores de ranura se convertirán en la nueva “X”, como lo hicieron Los Angeles Rams con Cooper Kupp, Philadelphia Eagles con DeVonta Smith y los Chargers con Keenan Allen. Estos nuevos receptores tragamonedas explosivos ahora son la manta de seguridad de un mariscal de campo. Como dijo Mina Kimes de ESPN en su reciente podcast, eso es exactamente lo que Kirk puede hacer por Trevor Lawrence.

El coordinador ofensivo de los Jaguars, Press Taylor, dijo recientemente sobre Kirk: “Podemos ponerlo en cualquier parte de la formación. Él puede hacer cosas diferentes. Puede ganar desde fuera. Es un gran tomador de decisiones con gran velocidad, que no siempre es lo que escuchas acerca de que los destinatarios son grandes tomadores de decisiones, pero realmente lo es. Entonces puedes ponerlo en una posición para ajustar las cosas y ponerse del lado de Trevor”.

Después de tres años con los Cardinals, Kirk viene de su mejor temporada, terminando a solo 18 yardas de su primera campaña de 1,000 yardas.

Sumerjámonos en la película para ver cómo los Jaguars pueden aprovechar al máximo su nueva amenaza profunda, tal como es el trato.

Ganando la separación en el campo bajo

Los Jaguars no han tenido un corredor puro desde Allen Robinson, a quien volvieron a correr en 2018. En los últimos años, los Jaguars han tenido problemas para separarse de sus receptores en el campo. De hecho, es un gran problema. Según Sports Info Solutions, los Jaguars terminaron en el puesto 25el en porcentaje de pases completos para lanzamientos a puerta, y Pro Football Focus les dio una calificación de recepción de 63.7, que fue 29el en la NFL. Simplemente no podían separarse.

Afortunadamente para la carrera de Kirk, pasó algún tiempo bajo el ala de uno de los mejores corredores de ruta de nuestra generación, Larry Fitzgerald. El año pasado, Kirk clasificó T-7el con el ala cerrada de los Falcons, Kyle Pitts, fuera de la ranura en YPRR cuando atrapó poco menos del 75% de sus objetivos, según el PFF.

Mirando las rutas en las que Kirk ha tenido más éxito (diagrama de la izquierda) cuando hace una ruta de curl (100 %), la ruta de salida (83,3 %) y una ruta de poste/esquina (87,4 %) corriendo. Esto se debe a su brusquedad cuando llega a su descanso y luego a su agresividad cuando está al final de su ruta.

En la ruta de rizo a continuación, mientras Kirk sale de su liberación, hace su primer ajuste hacia afuera, lo que obliga al defensor a abrir las caderas, pensando que Kirk se está yendo vertical. Pero luego Kirk golpea la espalda y se abre a la línea de banda, dándole una separación instantánea para un tiro perfectamente sincronizado.

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It’s the subtle adjustments mid-route that can make all the difference.

In the clip below, the Cardinals are facing 2nd-and-10, and Kirk is lined up in the slot running an out route. With the Browns’ defensive back lined up with outside shade, and Kirk’s route to the outside, it’s now his job to move the defender before his break in order to get separation.

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When Kirk is making his way up-field he takes a look to the inside which forces the defensive back follow, leaving the outside wide open.

In the clip below, Kirk uses the same technique to get open running a deep corner route, resulting in a 21-yard touchdown.

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With Kirk’s skillset to beat defenders even without the leverage, offensive coordinators won’t be limited with play calls. They can feel confident that the receivers can get to their spots no matter the defensive look.

Making contested catches

Another issue that the Jaguars’ offense faced last year were drops. Trevor Lawrence was able to fit the ball into some tight windows, but the receivers were unable to come down with it. According to PFF, Lawrence was fifth among quarterbacks with the most incompletions due to receiver error (drops/misplays/etc.) in 2021, with 40.

This is one reason the Jaguars picked up Kirk. He posted a 97.0 receiving grade (per PFF) on intermediate passes which is ranked higher than Diontae Johnson, Terry McLaurin and Robert Woods; while only registering only one drop on short passes.

Here are Kirk’s receiving depth stats and grades.

The Jaguars’ receivers last year weren’t able to hold onto the ball through contact. This is one area where Kirk excels. He makes very good adjustments to the ball and can secure a catch when going to the ground.

In the clip below, Kirk is lined up in the inside slot position and is running a deep curl. The first thing to notice is how Kirk finishes his route beyond the first down marker.

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Kirk is able to stay in the throwing window while taking a hit from two defenders. This isn’t something that you would want to happen often but being able to catch through contact is a must for a slot receiver.

Here is a compilation of clips where Kirk is able to secure the catch through contact running intermediate and deep routes.

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Jaguars’ offensive coordinator Taylor will be implementing timed routes where the quarterback may only have a small window to put the ball in the receivers’ chest and it’s up to the receiver to hold onto it through contact.

In the clip below, Taylor is with Fran Duffy in the Eagles Coaches Masterclass, and he explains how the offense is attacking the linebacker in middle of the field.

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The Jaguars need receivers who can be in the correct spot at the right moment to keep the offense moving. Kirk will be used similar to how Nelson Agholor was used with the Eagles back in 2018. Drops were a huge reason why the Eagles offense wasn’t successful after their Super Bowl run the year prior.

That is why head coach Doug Pederson and Taylor knew it would be vital to invest in one of the most versatile pass catchers this off-season.

Being a versatile deep threat

The Jaguars didn’t land a superstar receiver with Kirk, as they will likely need to add a pure ‘Z’ receiver for the offense to really take the next step. But they did land a guy that the offense can absolutely win “because-of”.

According to Next Gen Stats, Kirk is a top 10 receiver when lined up in the slot, he finished first in catch rate over expected (+11.8%) third in receiving expected points added (+40.6), fourth in receptions (59) and receiving yards (722).

So even though Kirk has played his best when lining up inside, he has more experience from the outside. In Kirk’s career (per PFF). he has 1,278 slot reps and 1,707 reps lined up on the outside.

“He’s a dynamic player,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “Inside, outside (receiver). Works his tail off. Doesn’t come off the field. When you work that hard, good things happen to you on Sundays.”

In the clip below, Kirk is lined up on the outside with a cornerback playing way too close to the line of scrimmage. Kirk is able to eat up the cushion quickly and with the strong safety creeping towards the middle of the field, Kirk is one-on-one on the outside.

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Whenever Kirk is running deep the quarterback will have to read the closest safety. If the safety’s first step is forward, then Kirk is one-on-one on the outside. If the safety takes a step back, then the middle will be open. Offensive coordinator Taylor expects Kirk and Lawrence to be on the same page and adjust on the fly.

In the clip below, Kirk is running a deep corner route. At the snap, Kyler Murray sees the safety drop but he remains patient. Kirk is able to actually move the defender inside as his breaks towards the sideline.

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In the clip below, Kirk is in a stacked look giving him space off the line of scrimmage. He is able to stay on his route through the contact and get under the Murray’s pass resulting in a huge play downfield.

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Expect a different type of Jaguars offense than what we’ve seen in years past. Pederson and Taylor will look to use Kirk’s speed to attack defenses often. Whenever Lawrence notices a single or two-high safety look, he will likely go for the air yards. Buckle up!

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