The Jacksonville Jaguars offensive was a magnet for criticism last season, and rightfully so. They were not good.
But with that said, I have a hard time understanding why so many fans apportion an unwarranted amount of blame to right tackle Austin Pasztor.
Don’t get me wrong -- Pasztor was far from a world-beater last season. And he’s far from a long-term plug at right guard. Pasztor only saw the field for eight games last season, perhaps elevating questions about his durability beyond the questions about his ability to play right tackle at an NFL level.
But when Pasztor went down with a season-ending hamstring injury vs. the New York Giants in Week 13, there was a visible decline in right-side protection. Bortles was sacked an average of three times per game before Week 13. In the last four games of the season, that number doubled.
I don't say this to hoist Pasztor’s capacity to play right tackle. Rather, the jump in sacks during the latter part of last season reveals just how crucial having a sturdy right tackle is when protecting the quarterback.
This season, the Jaguars have a brand new body at right tackle. And he's a beast.
Jermey Parnell didn’t start every game for the Dallas Cowboys last season. Rather, Parnell uncovered opportunity behind starting RT Doug Free’s injuries. Parnell started seven games and allowed zero sacks.
When the Jaguars went after Parnell this offseason, they put their money where their mouth is. The team is serious about protecting Blake Bortles. They need Blake to be the long-term guy, and because of this, they need an offensive line that can stand tall for 16 games.
6’6" Jermey Parnell stands pretty tall, and his film speaks volumes about his bully reputation.
Meanwhile, Pasztor will move through positions as he continues to contribute in 2015. Pasztor will likely still see some time at right tackle, but his versatile skill-set will allow him to shift around interior spots as well.
Overall, the focus in 2015 will be dropping that sack total and barring defenders from pressuring the Jaguars’ second-year quarterback. With a sturdy right tackle and new depth within the line, the Jaguars hold every opportunity to accomplish this goal.