Over the course of the 2019 regular season, the Jaguars and head coach Doug Marrone have platooned their right guard position — meaning both A.J. Cann and second year offensive lineman Will Richardson would split repetitions during the game. Specifically, the two guards would trade places on the bench and at guard every two drives with Cann starting the game.
Most recently, however Cann has garnered the majority of all snaps at right guard ahead of Richardson, including playing all 62 snaps this past Sunday, the fifth-year veteran has earned the starting role over his counterpart — at least in Marrone’s eyes.
Last week A.J. Cann told Big Cat Country, one of the perks of working with Richardson at guard was it raised his competitiveness, and thus made him better as a result. His head coach agrees with that sentiment, and feels he has improved greatly throughout the season.
“Again, we watch every play, every practice and all that, and A.J. [Cann] has earned that,” Marrone said on Tuesday. “Now, I think part of A.J. [Cann] getting better was because of the competition with Will.”
While Cann has won the competition for now, Marrone still believes that Richardson has played well enough to be a starter in this league, and could eventually return to the role in a future season with the Jaguars. Figuring out where to place Richardson — who played both tackle and guard this season —, is when things become a little more cloudy.
“I think we have to do a good job of where we think he can play because I think when I went back and I looked at the games early, when he started two games at tackle — I kind of probably took that for granted at the time, just trying to survive it, said Marrone when asked about the competition being over. “But when you go back and look at it he did a good job. So, now you have someone you gotta just figure out where to put him in the mix.”
Over the course of the season, Richardson started the team’s first two games at left tackle while starting left tackle Cam Robinson recovered from a 2018 knee injury which hampered him throughout the preseason. While Richardson didn’t exactly look like a natural on the left side, he improved greatly in just two games at the position.
While Cann has seemingly performed better at guard, Marrone admitted Richardson may have had a disadvantage. While Cann was able to focus solely on one position — guard —, Richardson was forced to focus on multiple position during the offseason and even during the regular season.
“When we had some injuries at tackle and didn’t know whether our tackles were gonna play or we were gonna play — [swing tackle] Cedric [Ogbuehi] was gonna play. We had to move Will from guard and give him some work at tackle,” Marrone explained. “And I think when you’re a young lineman you have to be able to do that, but it’s very difficult — its a greater challenge than if you’re just set at one position and you’re working to win on that position.”
Cann will start and presumably play 100% of the snaps at right guard for the Jaguars this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. A role he has earned through hard work and dedication to his craft.