JACKSONVILLE FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Uche Nwaneri #77 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates a victory over the Denver Broncos following the NFL season opener game at EverBank Field on September 12 2010 in Jacksonville Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
In the hours and days following Sunday's victory over the Denver Broncos many have been singled out as major contributors to the win. The performances of David Garrard, Mike Thomas, Aaron Kampman, Kassim Osgood, Marcedes Lewis, Tiquan Underwood and Tyson Alualu have been singled out and praised by many, but one unit hasn't been lauded for their tremendous performance on Sunday and that was the offensive line.
The young pair of tackles that struggled in pass protection last year looked like the strong combo that Gene Smith envisioned when he drafted the two with consecutive picks in 2009. Pro Football Focus ranked the Jaguars line as 30th in the NFL in pass blocking while previewing the 2010 season and they were just one of many to feel as such. One week into the season it would appear that the Jaguars have a line that is certainly better than more than 2 lines.
Do the Broncos have one of the league's best pass rushs? Not even close. Maybe they did before Elvis Dumervil got hurt, but now they're definitely a front seven that ranks in the back half of the NFL. Nevertheless, the pass blocking was impressive. Eugene Monroe was completely dominant on Garrard's blind side and as soon as he made contact with his man it was all over.
The only sack of the day from the Broncos came from the other side when Kevin Haslam was lined up beside Eben Britton as a tight end (H/T to Ewdtrey). As Alfie said it wasn't really the line's fault though, "the lone sack came from a play where Garrard was trying to hit the defense on a double move with a pump fake and just had to eat a sack."
Run blocking looked strong, as has become expected of a Jaguars team. The Jaguar running backs accumulated 124 yards on 27 carries for a 4.6 yards per carry average.
This is only one week and there will certainly be bigger challenges ahead for the likes of Monroe, Smiley, Meester, Nwaneri and Monroe, but they're off to a good start. The Chargers' pass rush looked very unimpressive against the Chiefs' offensive line and recorded only one sack when Shaun Phillips beat a mismatched tight end off the edge. Another strong performance by the Jaguars line could give the offense the firepower it needs to beat the likes of Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates in San Diego.