Inconsistent Jaguars Offensive Line Needs to ‘Control the Line of Scrimmage’ Over Final Weeks
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has not minced words often this season about the areas he and his struggling team, now 4-8 after four straight losses, need to improve.
Jacksonville has been chasing an ability to be consistent all season long, and perhaps the unit most snakebitten by up and down play has been the offensive line. What was supposed to be one of the team’s strengths this season, with three highly paid interior lineman and two former second-round NFL Draft selections at left and right tackle, Jacksonville has invested too much into its offensive line to see it struggle.
But much like the rest of this Jaguars squad, the unit hasn’t been able to get its footing and has yet to build on any real positive momentum. The low point of the season for the group came in Week 13 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as Jacksonville allowed five sacks, with three of those directly resulting in turnovers. In terms of run blocking, Jacksonville ran it 17 times for 49 yards, an abysmal 2.9 yard per carry average.
The offensive line has also been the victim of several ill-timed penalties that have killed what otherwise we're encouraging drives. Jacksonville’s front line has committed 42 penalties for 321 yards, each the most of any offensive line in the NFL according to NFLPenalties.com. Jacksonville has also allowed 35 sacks, tied for 28th in the league.
“We talked to the team today about in order to be successful, in anything you do, you can't make the same mistake twice. And that is the one thing,” Marrone said during his Wednesday press conference at TIAA Bank Field. “I have seen us learn and then go backward. Learn and then go backward. And it's one thing after another, and that is the same with us as coaches. And that is my job. That is where I haven't done a good job. It is my job to make sure we are a hell lot more consistent then we have been, and I haven't.”
Things are unlikely to get any easier for Jacksonville’s linemen in Week 14, either. They will host the Los Angeles Chargers’ lethal pass rush duo of Joey Bosa (8.5 sacks in 2019) and Melvin Ingram (5.5 sacks).
“I mean, they are good,” Marrone said. “I think Ingram is playing as well as I have seen him play. I think he is a tough matchup for the tackle, I think he is a tough matchup when they put him on the guard. I think Bosa obviously has great speed and strength and he can go outside or inside.”
So with a few more elite pass rushers coming to town, only a week after Shaquill Barrett dominated Jacksonville’s front, what does Marrone want to see out of Brandon Linder, Andrew Norwell, A.J. Cann, Cam Robinson, and Jawaan Taylor?
“Just control the line of scrimmage. I think it is as simple as that,” Marrone said. “I think you can tell when you are playing in a game when you are controlling the line of scrimmage, whether it be the run or the pass. I think we have to be more consistent and do a better job of that.”
A consistent offensive line was one of Jacksonville’s biggest strengths in 2017. Injuries killed the group in 2018, but this year the starting five has been healthy for every game sans Robinson missing the season’s first two weeks. Now, they need to find their way back to consistent football. They have done it at times this season, but not nearly enough.
“I think that when you look back at the games that we have played well - and I know it is easy to put it all on one group - but usually when your offensive line and your defensive line plays well, you have a good opportunity to win,” Marrone said.
“When you are not playing well on either side or both sides, then it gets tough in this league. So we have to be more consistent, and I would say would be the one thing; looking to have control."