Mi­lanovich get­ting the (play) call from Jaguars

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday) - - Gameday - By Gene Frenette

JACK­SONVILLE — In his de­but Sun­day as an NFL play-caller at TIAA Bank Field, Scott Mi­lanovich is re­ally play­ing with house money. So he might as well throw the kitchen sink at the In­di­anapo­lis Colts.

At 3-8, there’s no rea­son for the Jaguars’ quar­ter­backs coach to shrink the play­book. Even with­out a lot of first-team of­fen­sive per­son­nel on the field, there’s no bet­ter time than now to be bold.

Why not try a cou­ple of flea-flick­ers with new quar­ter­back Cody Kessler? If the Colts are in the right de­fen­sive look, how about an­other jet sweep with re­ceiver Dede West­brook, a play that worked so per­fectly last week against the Buf­falo Bills? Any kind of trick­ery, maybe run­ning backs T.J. Yel­don or Car­los Hyde at­tempt­ing a pass, to move the chains would at least be in­trigu­ing to watch.

“I think we’re def­i­nitely at a place as an of­fense where (we can) shoot for the stars,” Jaguars tight end James O’Shaugh­nessy said. “See what hap­pens. We can take risks be­cause right now what do we have to lose?”

Sure, it could all back­fire. But with the Jaguars mired in a seven-game los­ing streak and changes ga­lore on the hori­zon, it’s not as if the or­ga­ni­za­tion would be tak­ing a huge gam­ble by try­ing a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing to jump-start an ane­mic of­fense.

Mi­lanovich, in his sec­ond season with the Jaguars, has taken over as the play-caller for dis­missed of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Nathaniel Hack­ett. Hack­ett was fired Mon­day, the same day head coach Doug Mar­rone benched five-year starter Blake Bor­tles for Kessler.

No­body is putting the Jaguars’ of­fen­sive sys­tem in cold stor­age, but the op­por­tu­nity is there for Mi­lanovich to add his own wrin­kles, maybe force the Colts de­fense to ad­just to some­thing it doesn’t ex­pect.

It’s hard to imag­ine Mi­lanovich, 45, be­ing timid in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion. He has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence as an of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in NFL Eu­rope (Rhein Fire and Cologne Cen­tu­ri­ons in 2005-06) and the Cana­dian Foot­ball League with the Montreal Alou­ettes, as well as a five-year head coach­ing stint with the Toronto Arg­onauts.

Granted, he’s about as hand­cuffed as any play­caller can be in this sit­u­a­tion. Mi­lanovich has a sel­dom-used quar­ter­back mak­ing his first start in two years, an in­jury-rid­dled of­fen­sive line play­ing with three back­ups and pri­mary of­fen­sive weapon Leonard Four­nette sit­ting out this game due to an NFL sus- pension.

This is hardly an ideal sce­nario to light up a score­board, but the Jaguars can’t go all-out con­ser­va­tive if they’re go­ing to try to keep up with the high-pow­ered Colts of­fense. Quar­ter­back An­drew Luck has eight con­sec­u­tive games of at least three TD passes, in­clud­ing that 29-26 win over the Jaguars three weeks ago.

But Mi­lanovich ap­pears un­fazed about run­ning an at­tri­tion-plagued of­fense. It doesn’t change the fact he has to come up with a game plan to beat an AFC South ri­val.

“I don’t feel any pres­sure,” Mi­lanovich said. “I’ve got to call the game my way. I can’t worry about (how) any­body else wants it called. I think that’s where you get into is­sues.

“We’ll get a feel for the game. We’ll get a feel for what they’re do­ing, what our guys can ex­e­cute, and I’ll call the game ac­cord­ingly.”

Even if he down­plays his new role as an au­di­tion for fu­ture job op­por­tu­ni­ties, don’t think Mi­lanovich isn’t tak­ing this game a lit­tle per­son­ally. That ’s be­cause across the field is Colts head coach Frank Re­ich, who struck up a friend­ship with Mi­lanovich nearly a decade ago.

When Re­ich was the Colts quar­ter­backs coach (2009-10), he was in­vited by Alou­ettes head coach Marc Trest­man, then Mi­lanovich’s boss, to Montreal to ex­change ideas. As for­mer Mary­land quar­ter­backs, Re­ich and Mi­lanovich bonded.

It led to Mi­lanovich be­ing in­vited to the Colts’ fa­cil­i­ties over the next cou­ple of years as the two stud­ied film and got a feel for each other’s philoso­phies.

“I got to be around Scott for a whole week [in Montreal], watch him in­stall their of­fense, watch him on the field ,” Re­ich said. “When I was coach­ing quar­ter­backs in In­di­anapo­lis, Scott used to come in for a cou­ple days at a time just to talk foot­ball and stay up with what was go­ing on in the NFL.

“He’s a re­ally smart guy, a re­ally good foot­ball mind. I got a lot of re­spect for him.”

Mi­lanovich, who won the CFL Grey Cup in his first year as a head coach in Toronto, tried to en­tice Re­ich to be his of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor af­ter the 2012 season, but he had al­ready taken a job as the San Diego Charg­ers’ quar­ter­backs coach.

“We talk a mil­lion things — philoso­phies, RPOs,” Mi­lanovich said of Re­ich. “He’s a great speaker. I like to lis­ten to him. I al­ways knew he’d be a great head coach be­cause he’s so good in front of a room. So I like to hear his opin­ions on man­ag­ing peo­ple, lead­er­ship, things like that.”

MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS

Quar­ter­backs coach Scott Mi­lanovich will call plays for the Jaguars of­fense for the first time Sun­day against the In­di­anapo­lis Colts.

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