Thoughts on the Offensive Line


There was a lot of discussion this week how competition on the offensive line will make them better. I don’t agree. What will make the offensive line better will be all the rookie defensive linemen plus Aaron Kampman and Reggie Hayward. Just wait until the pads go on and those rookie defensive linemen get to hit people. Keeping Tyson Alualu out of the backfield while containing D’Anthony Smith and both of the ends will keep that line quite busy. The incentive to do well isn’t coming from the bench, it will be the potential embarrassment right in front of them.

So every year Jack Del Rio singles out a veteran and calls him out publicly. Last year it was John Henderson. This year it is Vince Manuwai. Seriously, if Manuwai is cut and Uche Nwaneri and Brad Meester stay, that is a serious breakdown in the Jaguars evaluation. Check the stats from last year. The only for sure absolute direction to run the ball was to the left behind Eugene Monroe and Vince Manuwai. Guaranteed yards were available behind those two. The rest of the line was worthless.

Jack does this head game stuff constantly. Despite being half the reason David was the most hit QB last year, Jack named Eben Britton a game captain. Jack tries this stuff a lot, so I am going to ignore this Vince Manuwai talk until I can get to training camp and see for myself.

I don’t know what to make of this Justin Smiley trade. Justin Smiley has not been someone the Dolphins could count on being available on game day. He missed games in 2008 and 2009 and even if he didn’t miss the game, he wasn’t available as a starter on a regular basis.  I know this is the cardinal sin against Bill Parcell. If he can’t count on you being there, he doesn’t want you.  But there is more, the Dolphins were worried even lifting weights would hurt the guy. Justin Smiley agreed to a new contract which I guarantee didn’t mean an increase. He knows there are questions about his health. No other team really wanted him even for a 7th round draft choice. Seriously, am I the only one who sees a problem here? I am not convinced Justin Smiley will be a starter. He might be another TraThomas, good bench strength. That may be enough to justify it and if he becomes a starter, this is a wow. I am not going to jump on the Smiley bandwagon just yet and decalre the line fixed.

If Brad Meester is being given a pass for last year’s performance, and no one called him out publicly, then there are two reasons; he has a wealth of knowledge they can’t replace and he wasn’t entirely responsible for a bad year. With rookie tackles and flipping Uche and Vince to opposite sides, I am thinking there was a lot of confusion on the line. Brad may have been the victim of poor performances around him. I am willing to give him that.

I still think Eugene Monroe will emerge as a top talent this year and that Kynan Forney will emerge as a top run blocking guard. Other than that, I need to get to camp and see these guys play.  This line was as bad as the defensive line last year and Gene Smith knows it.  It has to get better or nothing will be right with this season.

- Terry O’Brien

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  • Adam

    If Smiley does nothing but provide depth, I’d still be happy with the trade. There’s no worst case scenario here. Even if he gets injured and is out for the season, the Jaguars don’t lose a draft pick because the trade was conditional.

  • dan073eb

    I know they shuffle the line some, and right now is the time to do it i guess, but pretty soon (starting with training camp) shouldn’t they be settled in and starting to bond? I mean the guys need to start to work together for awhile to be able to work together right, right? I seem to remember someone on the line bitching about the last year when they kept pulling eugene out and putting tra thomas in and going back and forth like that.

    • http://www.blackandteal.com tkopa

      Dan,

      I think you are right, too much tinkering, not enough teamwork.

  • JagSoldier

    Well I guess its a good thing that we have some depth Im just not sure how good the depth is. Im not there to actually see these guys practice so I will go off of your evaluations of them. What I do know is that Gene will not take a risk without there being a good chance for success. Someone else will most likely be playing center this year and the tackles should be better. They have the 3 positions in the middle that they need to figure out but whoever is put in will be because they are the best option, that much Im sure of.

  • zoltanfrombudapest

    I think Vinnie need to be called out;and I think Brad knows how bad was this year (Listen what Koetter said about him last week: I know everybody count him off; but he(Brad) has pretty good this offseason so far).
    I agre with you; the O-line rebuilding is far from over; and I think the Jags must find fresh intrior O-lineman too.
    The sad part is until Training camp Terry cannot prove or dispove how the players actully looking.

    We can count almost only on Lageman(who said Vinnie has serious issues; and that Britton looks good so far!)

  • Adam

    Also, I keep hearing about Miami not wanting Smiley to lift weights this offseason. I think the reason was that they were going to trade him and didn’t want to risk him getting his limp shoulder injured. Even if he was completely healthy, there’s no reason to allow him to lift because he’s not going to be a contributor for the team next year anyway.

    • http://www.blackandteal.com tkopa

      Adam: Logic check. It was the reports of the Dolphins believing his shoulder was shot that downgraded him from a 3rd rounder to a 7th rounder. If anything, they would want him lifting to show he was healthy. Only if he is actually injured would they ask for no strain on the shoulder.

      A healthy guy not lifting looks injured. Why portray a healthy guy as injured if you wantto get value for him? Truth is, Miami gave up because he wasn’t reliable from a health perspective and the salary couldn’t justify keeping him.

  • CatHouseCrazy

    Great article. Couple points. He is a LG pass blocking guy. He will not be competing with Vinnie. Vinnie and Forey are the battle for RG MoJO way paver.. Uche has to take the center spot or beat out Smiley at LT. I don’t think the jags went out and signed him for the kind of money he is getting to be a back up. On Jaguars this week they where saying Smiley was due @ 5 mill for this season in Miami. He reportedly re-did his deal and is taking @ 3 Mil. Even at 3 Mill that is not back up guard money. Thats twice what they gave Tra Thomas last year at BU LT.
    I think that also says a lot about why Miami didn’t want him. They did not want to pay 5 Mill to the guy. He was unlikey to redo his deal there. He was saying today there is animosity. The Fins have a very bad rep with there player relations moves, just ask Mike Golic. The Tuna is also notorius for his hard line treatment of on injured players. So we are to believe the Fins when they say he was not fit to lift wieghts and he has no problems passing our physical? And he is out practicing todayhis first day in Jax? Yeah. And monkeys are gonna fly out my butt.

    • http://www.blackandteal.com tkopa

      CatHouse,

      Thank you. If you would like to write an article now and then, we would love to have your thoughts posted. Just let me know.

      You are right, at $3 mill, he better start or leave. I would like to see him start. I do not want to see monkeys fly out of your butt.

      Thanks again.

  • Bibbee

    Excellent article and great insight on Meester. I couldn’t agree more with you on this.

    “I need to get to camp and see these guys play. This line was as bad as the defensive line last year and Gene Smith knows it. It has to get better or nothing will be right with this season.”

    That’s real talk. Like you, I can’t wait to get to camp and watch the line battles on both sides. I think the O Line competition is absolutely necessary. Even though we would all LOVE to see the solidarity of one stable unit and a line up of consistent performers, the truth is we just don’t have it yet. Let the JDR tough talk and line up shuffle begin!

  • rocksteady

    Britton is by far the Jags BEST player.

    • zoltanfrombudapest

      Wow- That is even for me to much. Better then MJD; Marcedes; Darly Smith??? No! I hope at least he will be one of the best players soon; but he is middle of the pack right now

    • http://www.blackandteal.com tkopa

      Rocksteady,

      Do you actually watch football?

    • Bibbee

      Giving benefit of the doubt, I am HOPING he meant on the offensive line… in which case, it is still a questionable opinion and Terry, your question still applies.