Did Urban Meyer Tip the Jaguars’ Hand When It Comes to the Offensive Line Plan?

Many have pegged the Jaguars as a team that could look to completely revamp its offensive line, but did Urban Meyer put that to rest last Friday?
Author:
Publish date:

When it comes to teams that are about to make a major investment at quarterback, the same old narrative is always played out ... and we do mean always. 

Build the offensive line. Protect your investment. 

In theory, this is 100% true. The key for any successful offense is a strong offensive line. And when it comes to keeping the young franchise quarterback upright, a team would be foolish to not surround them with capable offensive lines (see Joe Burrow, Russell Wilson as examples). 

But does this narrative mean the Jacksonville Jaguars should center their offseason around revamping their front line since they have the No. 1 overall pick? 

The answer is likely "no," at least based on what head coach Urban Meyer told NFL Network's Jane Slater following Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence's pro day. 

"Oh, it's all I think about 24/7. And this is a transformable decision for the Jaguars. We all know that it's a quarterback sport and obviously in the NFL," Meyer said when Slater asked him about his thoughts on the state of the Jaguars' offense.

"But it's also, when I was talking, our offensive line is pretty good. You know, it's not a blow up offensive line. You know, we got some other areas we got to fix. So I have a vision of what it looks like. Coach Schottenheimer and Bevell, we've had those conversations, but it's going to be built around what we have, and there's some good pieces there but we're gonna make it even better."

In the same quote, Meyer said the offensive line "is pretty good", and isn't a line they need to "blow up". He also noted the Jaguars have other areas of the offense they need to fix, which presumably would be at tight end, wide receiver, and quarterback. 

Perhaps this was just coach speak. Coaches don't often rag on their units, especially new coaches. 

But what if it wasn't? What if the Jaguars feel that confident in their offensive line? In a year in which we simply don't know much about the Jaguars' intentions, Meyer's statements on the offensive line could potentially speak volumes.

In a way, Meyer's backing of the offensive line sounded a lot like the same confidence Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone had when he talked about the line in last year's offseason. Marrone continued to say that it wasn't a unit they needed to overhaul and then kept his word, with fourth-round guard Ben Bartch becoming the only notable addition. 

The outside perception was the Jaguars would upgrade their offensive line, but Marrone never sounded like it was a pressing priority. Meyer appeared to have the same attitude toward the unit, whereas some people may look at it and wonder why the Jaguars don't use multiple picks on the line. 

Frankly, it would make the most sense for Meyer to be this confident in the offensive line. Many observers have pegged the Jaguars as a candidate to pay an interior offensive lineman big money, but the tape of 2020 says there is no need to. 

Guards Andrew Norwell and A.J. Cann each had their best seasons with the Jaguars last year. Cann had the lowest amount of "blown blocks" of his career via Sports Info Solutions, while Norwell cut down on his penalties, decreasing them from seven in 2019 to two in 2020. 

They will once again be coached by offensive line coach George Warhop, one of five coaches retained by the Jaguars from Doug Marrone's staff. Whatever Warhop did with Norwell and Cann last year, it worked. With his return, there should be some optimism that the Jaguars could see repeat performances next season. 

Then there is center Brandon Linder. Linder has been one of the best centers in the NFL for much of his career, but he was particularly dominant throughout the first half of the 2020 season. He was the linchpin of the offensive line, giving the offense a big boost with his knowledge of protection calls and consistency as both a run and pass blocker. 

Linder only played nine games last season -- two seasons after playing only nine games in 2018 -- so his injury history is his only real hangup. As long as he is healthy, he is a terrific player. 

Then there are the offensive tackle spots. Right tackle Jawaan Taylor regressed in a big way last season, but there are plenty of reasons to believe the Jaguars will rely on him again in 2021. 

He will be only 23 in Week 1 and was a top pick in the second round just two years ago. Yes, that was under a different regime, but Warhop has been his coach for his entire NFL career, so his return is a good sign for Taylor's future. 

That leaves left tackle as the only spot that is really up in the air -- and that is only because incumbent left tackle Cam Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent in March. 

The Jaguars will have to make some kind of investment at left tackle, whether it is extending or tagging Robinson, drafting a player at No. 25 or later, or signing a different veteran. What that move will be is anyone's guess, but the Jaguars will have to take action one way or another. 

In short, it isn't hard to see why Meyer feels this way about the Jaguars' offensive line. The interior was legitimately good in 2020, while the right tackle is young. The Jaguars have a lot of work to do on their offense, but other than left tackle is there truly a glaring need on the offensive line? 

It doesn't look that way. Perhaps the Jaguars change course and add multiple offensive linemen this offseason, but it instead looks more and more like Meyer has already revealed their plans.