How much stock should we put into preseason football? I honestly don’t know the answer, but if last night’s game against the Carolina Panthers was a dress rehearsal for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ season, I’m concerned.
I am not completely ready to give up on this season already, as it is still just preseason and several key players — A.J. Bouye, Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, Leonard Fournette, Dante Fowler Jr., Aaron Colvin, and more — were inactive. But for the second straight preseason game, many starters played well into the third quarter and plenty of mistakes were made.
All eyes were on the atrocious situation at quarterback, where neither Blake Bortles nor Chad Henne took a step toward securing starting quarterback duties. The defense once again struggled with missed tackles, a lack of a pass rush (outside of Calais Campbell) and a couple of bone-headed penalties.
But what I was paying attention to was the offensive line. It was very discouraging to watch. Similarly to the quarterback position, the Jaguars failed to bring in any real competition at guard, and that is going to hurt this team in the long run.
FA provided like 4 guard options, 1st/2nd round of draft had several good QBs, and 3rd/4th rounds had good guards. This management sucks.— Zach Goodall (@zach_goodall) August 25, 2017
Luke Bowanko got the start at left guard and it didn’t go all that well. Granted, Bowanko is a center by trade, so left guard is fairly new to him. He was called for holding late in the second quarter and displayed just awful technique on the play. Despite the hold, the Panthers pass rush still got to Henne on the play.
A.J. Cann, who has started 29 games for the Jaguars over the past two seasons, was called for holding twice, and had a false start penalty. He showed very little discipline last night.
Patrick Omameh is the Jaguars’ usual starter at left guard. After a poor performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 of the preseason, he was benched for this contest. He came in during the third quarter, and did clear the way for Chris Ivory to gain about nine yards on one play. But he didn’t stick out other than that (from what I saw).
I really think the Jaguars need to give a look to Tyler Shatley at left guard, or even right guard. He’s had a good camp and by all accounts that I’ve heard, the coaching staff is fond of him. He can play all three interior positions, and the Jaguars are really only set at center with Brandon Linder.
The starting tackles didn’t fair much better, either. Jeremy Parnell was called for a false start in the first quarter and gave up a sack. He isn’t exactly a player I feel confident in at right tackle.
Rookie left tackle Cam Robinson was beaten badly off of the edge by Mario Addison, which resulted in a sack. He still has a lot of learning to do.
Cam Robinson got beat bad off the left edge, folks. pic.twitter.com/cMz4dqe040— Big Cat Country (@BigCatCountry) August 24, 2017
All together the Jaguars gave up three sacks and once again struggled to run the ball. In fact, the Jaguars had 136 rushing yards, which looks more than respectable. But remembering that 51 of which came on a fake punt run from Corey Grant, Jacksonville only generated 85 yards on 26 rushing attempts — that’s an average of just 3.2 yards per carry.
Grant finished with 10 carries for 58 yards. But that means he only produced seven yards on nine called run plays. That is a telling sign of how poor of a job the Jaguars offensive line did run-blocking.
Exhibit A of run-block issues: Corey Grant's nine carries on offense gained seven yards. (51 yards on fake punt). #Jaguars— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) August 25, 2017
Ivory finished with 10 carries for 36 yards and a touchdown. Jonathan Grimes carried the rock three times for 13 yards and a touchdown. Both Ivory’s and Grimes’ scores came from one-yard out. Scrambles form Henne, Bortles, and Brandon Allen generated the remainder of the rushing yardage.
It wasn’t just the offensive line that looked bad in pass protection, either. Ivory’s struggles in pass pro continued as well last night, as he missed an assignment on a blitzing linebacker (Thomas Davis) and got Chad Henne sacked late in the second quarter.
Again, this is just preseason, and it’s not time to worry just yet. But with what we know from the past several years, and management’s failure to upgrade the offensive line and quarterback positions in the offseason, we could be in for another long season.
Please let us know your thoughts on the offensive line situation in the comments section.