The Jacksonville Jaguars have an offense that is blossoming. Blake Bortles is near the top in major statistical categories, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are both top-20 receivers, and they have two young interior linemen in A.J. Cann and Brandon Linder who are at the cusp of being Pro Bowl-caliber linemen.
And then you have the left side of the offensive line... a unit that isn't so much bad as it is unknown. We've seen 20 or snaps from Luke Joeckel at left guard and while all we've seen is him going up against Geno Atkins, he underwhelmed. Kelvin Beachum looked good at left tackle, but again we've had very few snaps to judge.
So it's to be expected that the post-practice press conferences leading up to the regular season opener include questions about the offensive line. And offensive coordinator Greg Olson was candid in explaining what he liked and what he didn't like about Joeckel on Thursday.
"Where Luke [Joeckel] is good at is ... short-area, when he’s in his short-area and there’s not a lot of distance between him and the defender and he can get his hands on the guy and lock up on the guy because he’s got great balance, he’s got good initial strike. Again, we could move him out and play tackle again, I’d be very comfortable, but if you were to find something he could pick up on his game or where his game could get better at is space. When he’s facing a player and space that has distance between him and that player, but, again to me he’s shown progress at both positions."
I think this is a fair assessment and like I said, we've only seen a couple dozen snaps of Joeckel at guard. But Olson hit the nail on the head -- the more space Joeckel had between he and Atkins, the more he seemed to struggle. He didn't seem to fail as consistently as we might remember against the Cincinnati Bengals in his only preseason action at guard, but when he did fail it was astounding how bad it looked.
It will be very interesting to see how Joeckel is faring as the game goes into the second half and both he and the guy across from him have had a couple of quarters to learn each other's tendencies.