When you sit down to watch the Jaguars this evening, there are some specific things to look for in the trenches. The Jaguars have tried to improve along the defensive line, and we should expect noticeable gains there. However, the interior is an area of significant concern, and watching how they play tonight can go a long way towards giving us an idea on who will win the position battles.
Watch Jordan black in pass blocking situations. He's virtually guaranteed a spot on the roster based on his run blocking prowess, as he frequently comes in as a TE on "heavy" packages. If he can show he's improving as a pass blocker, it will allay a lot of fears regarding our ability to field a competent back-up tackle should the need arise.
We'll take a look at the rest after the jump.
On the Interior of the offensive line, concern abounds. Who starts tonight means nothing. The most important player on the interior is in my opinion, Uche Nwaneri. His ability to force himself into the starting line-up and establish himself as a guard of the future for the team will go a long way in determining whether or not we have to completely rebuild our interior or not.
Justin Smiley is another guy to watch. He has the ability, when healthy, to be a force on the inside. His major question mark is the shoulder injury he's trying to recover from. Forney is a guy who's trying to reclaim his past glory and secure a starting spot once again. He has the build, the mentality, and a veteran savvy that provides a slight leg up.
What to watch for on running plays
Look for the push that the guards get against the opponents DT's. Are they pushing the defense back on running plays, or are they getting pushed? Is there a cohesive explosion off the snap, moving as one unit? Once they get their hands on the opponent, can they turn them aside to open the hole for the running back? Do they play low and with leverage, or does it look like they standing up too much? How do the guards look when pulling for runs to the outside? On draws, do they fake the pass-protection, or do they fail to disguise the play well?
What to watch on passing plays?
How do they handle stunts and blitz packages? Are they able to easily and cohesively switch responsibilities, or is a player left blocking air occasionally? On screen passes, do they get out in space for the running back in time, and do they make the block on the smaller defender? Can they correctly identify the blitzing defender and make the necessary adjustment? At Tackle, look for the player's feet, as that's the most important aspect. A player needs to keep their feet directly under the center of their body ideally. They need to have a strong first punch to re-direct rushing DE's. Jordan Black is the one to focus on here, as K. Haslam is the third stringer, although he'll be starting tonight likely.
The offensive line is a position of of focus as of right now, let's hope we're a little less concerned after tonight.