The Jaguars were handily beaten by the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, and the game raised more questions than it answered. I'll examine the players who performed well, and those who faltered in Monday's season opener.
Tony Pashos: The veteran gave up two clear sacks and was penalized on at least one occasion during the game. He is abover average in the run game, but was beaten badly time and time again. I'm not sure he would make a great guard either, and I think his salary is too much for an average guard. Maybe he'll prove me wrong, but he sure isn't showing any improvement as a RT, especially in the passing game. Something needs to be done about the RT position, Tony is not an adequate pass blocker. Period.
Uche Nwaneri/ Brad Meester/ Mo Williams: The starting interior trio wasn't able to allow Garrard enough time to pass, and couldn't open up lanes for MJD or Greg Jones. There is less concern here, because once Vinny comes back to RG, Uche will be able to head back to the bench. Uche is a great back-up, but there is a significant drop-off between Vince Manuwai and Uche, however, Manuwai is a premier guard, so that is to be expected.
Greg Estandia: Greg didn't do a lot to help his case in a crowed TE position. He was called for a penalty, and got very little separation even against the 3rd and 4th stringers of the Miami defense.
Greg Jones: The vet didn't show much in the running or passing game. He dropped passes, and looked nothing like the Greg of old. The line wasn't much help, but he looked very pedestrian in his first outing of the season, as did much of the team.
Brian Williams: The crafty veteran looked bad. He was flagged for penalty after penalty, and was beaten badly on more than one occasion. There is no question the acquisition of Derek Cox is looking like a much better gamble after Monday's game. Hopefully Derek will beat out Brian at some point in the season, and Williams can move to the nickel spot, where he would be much better suited (He'd be closer to the line of scrimmage to help in run defense). His salary is too high to play a nickel corner, so this may be the last season we have B-Dub around. He must improve over Monday's game, though.
Special Teams: Russ' unit looked atrocious. The kickoff coverage now uses the bunch formation (which is where everyone bunches behind the kicker and breaks apart as the ball is about to be kicked). This is amateur hour stuff, folks. It is a tactic that is used to try to confuse the return team's blockers, however, it seemed to have the opposite effect. Scobee made all his FG's, but the punting was inconsistent. The kickoff coverage was the main culprit here, and with the new wedge-ban in effect, it should make it easier on kickoff units to stop returns from going the distance.
Nate Hughes: The second-year burner at WR continued to make his case for a roster spot, and it is a strong one. Nate has had a great camp, and that carried over into the preseason opener. He showed good speed and route running, and caught the ball with his hands, literally snatching it out of the air on one occasion. At a weak position, he may be a valuable find.
Eugene Monroe: "The Future" was dominant on Monday, shutting down the defensive ends the entire time he was in the game. He looked solid against the run, but most importantly, he looked like he belonged on an NFL field. The best case scenario involves Eugene starting the season at LT and Tra starting it at RT... Eugene needs to be starting, and if he continues to perform like he did on Monday, the coaching staff is going to have hard time keeping him off the field.
Tra Thomas: The newly acquired Tra Thomas looked sharp on Monday, and shows that Gene Smith knows how to scout offensive linemen. Tra needs to be on the field, and his run-blocking looked consistently strong. He's got remarkably good feet for someone his age, and he needs to be playing at RT over Pashos.
Russell Allen: Wow... Talk about answering the call of duty. Russell was called in to play MLB for Justin Durant when he was sidelined with a hip problem. Allen responded with 4 tackles and one pass defended. He did a good job of getting the defense into position and calling the plays. We may be looking at one of our future LB's here...
Montavius Stanley/Atylliah Ellison: Both made their case for solving the DT problem by stopping the run. Ellison seems to be the better of the two on the line, however, the importance of Stanley's blocked extra point can't be overstated. Special teams can get you on the field.
[Edititorial Note: Thanks to Rufio for reminding me of Thomas Williams]
Thomas Williams: Last year's fifth-round pick looked great. He was making absolutely vicious tackles and continued to show why our LB corp is the team's strongest unit. Williams turned out an all around fantastic performance.
On The Fence:
Troy Williamson: When people are raving over a guy who fumbled the ball, and got lucky on one of his catches, you know things are bad at the WR position. Troy looked OK to me. I didn't like seeing that fumble, because it was before the rain even started, so there is no excuse. He needs to step it up consistently before I start congratulating the guy on an above average performance.
Tyron Brackenridge: The CB had one pass defense, and one tackle. Most importantly though, he didn't look overwhelmed. He seems to be a player the Jaguars are hot on, and I didn't see him make any major gaffes, so I would say he's one to watch.
Zach Miller: This QB turned TE can flat out move. The kid was flying around on offense, and special teams, making a shoestring tackle at the 2 yd like on punt coverage. His only problem may be adjusting to having to catch the ball, especially when David really puts the mustard on it. He had one drop against the dolphins that should've been caught. He's not natural looking at the position yet, and his blocking leaves something to be desired, but he's got major upside, and he showed it Monday.