We're starting a new six part series on Big Cat Country sponsored by Sprint, bringing you the first wireless 4G network. The series is called "Sprint Game Changers" and will revolve around things the Jacksonville Jaguars have done during the off season that will have a significant impact on next season. Big Cat Country has been sponsored by Sprint in the past and we are excited to have them again.
The next player in this series is the newest Jaguar, G Justin Smiley. Many fans were surprised by the Jaguars lack of moves regarding the interior of the offensive line in the draft and in free agency. Long time C Brad Meester degraded fast and hard during the 2009 campaign, finishing as the 33rd ranked C in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.
With the acquisition of Smiley, it's now possible for the Jaguars to make the necessary line schuffling to once again have a solid interior line.
The defining moment of the Jaguars season came, ironically enough, in Week 14 vs the Miami Dolphins. Garrard tried to pull off a QB draw on 4th down, but every Dolphins defender seemingly managed to shoot up the middle. What ensued was seemingly every player saying "My bad, that's on me." While noble, that play came to represent the lost force of the Jaguars offensive interior.
The Jaguars used an offensive line combo of (from LT-RT), Monroe, Forney, Nwaneri, Manuwai, and Britton fairly often during the public mini-camps. I would assume they'll continue with that, but have Smiley in for Forney. If I was a betting man, that'll be your 2010 opening day offensive line.
This combination would allow for the team to maximize the potential of the offensive line. Monroe began to show in the latter half of 2009 as to why he was a Top 10 pick, and I believe he'll begin to make his case as yet another of the AFC's Elite LT's in 2010. Matching Smiley next to him allows for the team to have a solid pass blocking left side, and Monroe's run blocking should let the team be able to run left still.
On the right side of the offensive line, it's clear the Jaguars want to run to that side. With Manuwai and Britton starting on that side of the line, paired potentially with Marcedes Lewis and Greg Jones, it seems the Jaguars will simply dare teams to try and stop MJD from running right.
However, some have pointed out Dirk Koetter's words on confidence in Brad Meester, and I would like to address that. I would expect the Jaguars to give Meester a fair shot to keep his starting spot, just as they did with Tony Pashos. Pashos was given every chance to beat out Eben Britton, before being one of the surprise Cut Day releases.