The return of Eben Britton to the Jacksonville Jaguars lineup on the offensive line was thought to signal better pass protection for second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who has struggled so far on the season in part due to pass protection.
All adding Britton to the lineup seemed to do however, was make the pass protection worse.
Britton was beaten repeated by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, giving up at least two sacks and three total hits on the quarterback. The big problem with the poor protection from Britton is, it comes from the interior of the offensive line. Anytime the defense can collapse the pocket from the inside, it virtually destroys whatever pass play the offense has called.
"It’s hard to step up to anything, especially when it’s interior guys. It’s hard to protect inside like that," Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey said after the game. "You can put guys on the outside to chip and bang like we do, but when you get some pressure up front. It’s not a good day up front when you can’t protect those guys."
The quickest path to the quarterback is up the middle of the offensive line, because it forces the quarterback to speed up whatever play is called, which usually leads to mistakes and/or sacks.
Britton was replaced at halftime by undrafted rookie Michael Brewster, who played markedly better and the offense was able to somewhat pass the football. There was no mention of Britton still being hobbled by injury after the game, but I'd like to think that was the cause for his atrocious play.
If it wasn't because of lingering injury, then there is a much bigger problem.