The Jacksonville Jaguars finished with the NFL’s best rushing attack in 2017, averaging 141.4 yards per game and scoring 18 rushing touchdowns.
What makes these stats crazy is that the Jaguars offensive line, in terms of run blocking, wasn’t great in 2017, despite allowing only 24 sacks in pass protection. It saw improvement from years past as right tackle Jermey Parnell had a very solid bounce-back season after bring injury-riddled in 2016, and when healthy, rookie left tackle Cam Robinson played like a veteran at the position. Plus, Brandon Linder continued to look like one of the best centers in the league.
However, both guard spots underperformed last year, despite success being found in the run game. Patrick Omameh was never more than average and missed several games later in the year due to injury, and A.J. Cann continued his inconsistent level of play that has been seen in the past. The Jaguars ranked 22nd in adjusted line yards (measuring offensive line value on run plays) with 4.01 ALY/rush when targeting the interior last year, despite ranking 4th in carries to the interior among rushing offenses in 2017 (per FootballOutsiders.com)
The Jaguars approached the offseason with offensive guard at the top of their free agency to-do list, bringing in former Carolina Panthers guard Andrew Norwell on the largest iOL contract in NFL history: Five years, $66.5 million. On top of signing Norwell, the Jaguars used their fourth round pick on NC State offensive tackle Will Richardson. In the long term, Richardson will likely replace Parnell when he decides to hang up the cleats or is cut by the team, but he could immediately compete at the right guard spot with Cann.
Projected offensive line depth chart
*Note: Italics = projected starter, Underline = Acquired in 2018 FA/draft*
Left Tackle: Cam Robinson, Josh Wells
Left Guard: Andrew Norwell, K.C. McDermott
Center: Brandon Linder, Tyler Shatley
Right Guard: Will Richardson, A.J. Cann
Right Tackle: Jermey Parnell
I’d figure the team will carry either nine of ten offensive lineman on the roster, so I opted with the lesser due to the potential of six receivers due to special teams contributors. While the left/right tackle and center positions carry incumbent starters, Norwell takes over at left guard position as he played there during his four years in Carolina and Richardson could very well beat out A.J. Cann at the right guard position.
As for depth, Tyler Shatley is likely a lock to make the roster. He started four games at center and right guard last year when Brandon Linder and A.J. Cann sat out with injuries and played very well, allowing only one sack in all four starts (per Ryan Day of BigCatCountry.com.
K.C. McDermott is my wild card of the current lesser-known depth OL on the Jaguars roster: The former Miami Hurricane signed as an undrafted free agent with the Jaguars last month. He fits the Jaguars apparent size thresholds (if the projected depth chart above holds true, the Jaguars entire offensive line will stand at 6-6, and weigh at least 306 lbs) at 6-6, 311 lbs, and according to Lance Zierlein’s scouting report at NFL.com, he possesses strong hands and enough bend and length to play along the interior at the NFL level.
On paper, the Jaguars are seemingly set at both tackle spots, left guard and center. Right guard is the position along the OL to watch when training camp comes around, as it will likely be one of the team’s most important position battles this offseason.
The Jaguars rushing offense ranked at the top of the league last year, and if the team’s offensive line sees the dramatic improvement along the interior that it’s hoping to, they should have no struggle finishing near, if not at, the top of the NFL in 2018. In terms of pass protection, it almost begs to ask: Could the Jaguars finish the 2018 season with less than 20 sacks allowed? That would be quite the feat, but the potential is there for this offensive line to be one of the best all-around lines in the league.
Check out the rest of the Locked On Jaguars position group breakdowns below:
Jaguars Release Jamaal Charles, Promote Linebacker DeLuca
The Jacksonville Jaguars have released running back Jamaal Charles after trading for Carlos Hyde and have promoted Linebacker Nick DeLuca. Charles was brought in to be a change of pace back for the Jaguars after placing Corey Grant on season-ending injured reserve.
The Jaguars traded for Carlos Hyde last week making Charles expendable. Charles accounted for 7 yards on 6 caries for the Jaguars. He also added two catches for seven yards. Running back Leonard Fournette has not been ruled out to play this week either and will travel with the team to London according to Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone.
Nick DeLuca is a rookie linebacker from NDSU. He was signed to the practice squad earlier in the season and has now been promoted due to the injury to linebacker Donald Payne. Payne will be out at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury.
We have promoted rookie LB @N_DeLuca49 to the 53-man active roster from the practice squad.
To make room on the roster, we released 11th-year RB Jamaal Charles. pic.twitter.com/OmiHd2wtvZ
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) October 22, 2018
Editorial: The Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin
In electing to stick with Blake Bortles as their starting quarterback, despite benching him for a poor performance against the Texans and watching his backup Cody Kessler vastly outperform him in the same game, the Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin.
Now sitting at a 3-4 record, on a three game losing streak, and in third place in the AFC South (the Titans own the tiebreaker for second place), it was clearly time for change to get this ship steered in the correct direction. Just seven weeks aggo, this Jaguars team was viewed as a potential Super Bowl contender. Right now, this team is projected to pick in the first half of the 2019 NFL Draft.
And they can’t blame anyone but themselves at this point.
“We can’t do s**t until we stop turning the ball over. Period. That’s just how it is,” head coach Doug Marrone said following the loss to the Texans. “…the first thing we’ve got to do is stop turning the damn ball over.”
In three consecutive games, the latest of which he barely played past halftime, Bortles has eight turnovers of his own: Five interceptions and three fumbles.
“I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win,” Marrone stated in a release from the team after Bortles was named the team’s starter going forward.
In a 24 hour period, Marrone has stated that, while turnovers are the Jaguars biggest issue, the player who is responsible for countless amounts of turnovers gives the team the best chance to win football games. That is the message that is being sent to this team, and the Jaguars fan base.
And the team isn’t happy. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was quoted saying “It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now,” after the loss to the Texans. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to assume this was shade thrown at the quarterback situation.
Ramsey deleted a post of him and Bortles shaking hands on the field from his Instagram this morning.
Defensive tackle Abry Jones put the responsibility of the offenses deficiencies on the defense, quoted saying “We can’t let them [opposing offenses] score at all.”
The Jaguars have chosen to be complacent, and in doing so, this season will continue to plummet. The confidence is low heading into London this week, and the Eagles pass rush should have an easy job forcing Bortles into more poor decisions as this Jaguars team appears to be on track to a 3-5 record at their bye week.
This team was supposed go contend this year. At one point in September, the Jaguars had single digit odds to win the Super Bowl. But that is all in the rearview mirror, as the Jaguars have nailed their own coffin in naming Blake Bortles the starting quarterback of a team that is already beginning to implode.
Jaguars announce Blake Bortles will remain the starting QB
24 hours removed from his first career benching, where he was clearly outplayed by his own backup in a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans, Blake Bortles has been named the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles in London, per the team.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced in a statement: “I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win.”
This comes under two hours removed from Marrone saying he had made his decision already but planned on addressing the team before releasing that information to the public. Bortles was benched after committing two turnovers against the Texans on Sunday, and Kessler completed 21/30 passes for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his place.
Bortles has committed eight turnovers in the past three weeks.
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