While much of the complaint from Sunday’s loss to the San Diego Chargers has been about the Jacksonville Jaguars red zone issues, and rightfully so, there was another glaring issue that reared its ugly head again during the game. The Jaguars pass rush, or lack thereof, showed up again in a big way. Philip Rivers once again picked the Jaguars apart, just like he did in 2014, as he had all day to throw the football. He was forced to move a handful of times on Sunday, if that, and overall had a clean pocket to throw from and racked up the yardage throwing to largely no targets that should be scaring anyone in the year 2015.
Chris Clemons and Andre Branch both played on Sunday and both ate a ton of snaps on the defensive line, as the team seemed to line up with two LEO ends much of the afternoon, but neither made any positive impact in the passing game.
Overall, they combined for more penalties than they did total tackles on the day. Clemons is on the down tick of his career, so I get it. He’s playing out the string. Branch on the other hand is in a vital contact year and he’s still completely awful. The Chargers, and I mean this in the most respectful way possible, had two randoms playing at offensive tackle because they’ve had so many injuries, and neither Clemons nor Branch could get off a block.
In fact, Branch stunted inside so badly on one particular play it freed up enough room to let PHILIP RIVERS scramble for a first down on a critical 4th and 7.
PHILIP RIVERS OUT RAN ANDRE BRANCH TO THE FIRST DOWN MARKER.
I think at this point in the season, you know neither is giving you much of anything rushing the passer. The time finally gave Ryan Davis more snaps at the LEO position, but he was largely ineffective. Chris Smith was also active and flashed once or twice, but it might be time to cut one of Branch or Clemons and start trolling other team’s practice squads or the waiver-wire just to see if you can potentially find (italic) something.
Let’s be honest, likely the only LEO ends currently on the roster who will be on the team in 2016 for sure is Dante Fowler. That’s it. I think Ryan Davis will be back, but it’s not a sure think. I’d venture to guess Smith, Clemons and Branch are all gone. It’s not necessarily giving up on the season dumping one of Branch or Clemons at this point, because honestly they don’t really give you anything anyway. At worst you’re looking at a sideways move.
Bring up newly signed practice squad player Quanterus Smith, who was highly rated before the NFL Draft and has been derailed by injuries. Give him a shot. Look at the practice squads for some of the teams who have multiple pass rushers and see if you can find a gem. The position needs to be addressed and it’s clear the Jaguars know it, as they’ve worked out some pass rushers over the past few weeks.
If the team is dead set on rushing with four down lineman the vast majority of the team, which is clearly the case, it’s time to start shuffling deck chairs in the hopes you find a life raft.