Dec 11, 2011; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Eugene Monroe (75) during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

O-line Is Cause For Concern, GM Smith Too

With the latest news of Eugene Monroe’s concussion, the Jaguars find themselves running very, very thin a the offensive line positions.  They aren’t yet as close as the Jaguars secondary was last season when they were signing guys off the street – well maybe they’re there, but it’s just the preseason so we don’t care as much – but the depth is getting dangerously low.

General Manager Gene Smith has had everything going his way for a bit.  He had the support of the old regime and now has Shahid Khan and Mike Mularkey behind him as well.  While he has had a few slipups (nothing major thus far), the failure to address the offensive line this offseason in free agency may ultimately end up hurting the team more than they expect.

A quarterback cannot throw without an offensive line.  A running back (MJD or otherwise) cannot run without an offensive line.  A team cannot win without an offensive line.

Smith knew this when he became general manager in 2009.  He immediately went out and secured bookend tackles Monroe and Eben Britton.  While Monroe has been great and Britton has been a little bit lackluster, mostly due to injury, the Jags overall depth at offensive line positions is the major concern.  You want those big guys up front who can start together for years.  But when it’s obvious that it isn’t working out as well as you had hoped, you need to make sure that the depth is there.

As injuries continue to plague those in the trenches, Khan may need to take a long look at the free agency approach that Smith takes.  He likes to build through the draft, but when your depth at crucial positions is thin, sometimes it’s best to just go out and get your guy.

Carl Nicks could have been that guy at guard and could very easily fill in for Will Rackley (He probably would outplay him too).  While Monroe will be back eventually (he may not play on Friday against the Saints) a look at depth for the future needs to be done.  Some teams like the Vikings have changed their fortunes drastically by getting guys like Steve Hutchinson in free agency, if the O-line doesn’t pan out this year the Jags may have to change their philosophy – or their head of personnel – in order to ensure they are competitive.

- Luke N. Sims

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Tags: Carl Nicks Eugene Monroe Gene Smith Jacksonville Jaguars Maurice Jones-drew Mike Mularkey NFL Preseason Shahid Khan Training Camp Will Rackley

  • Chipshot

    Couldn’t agree more with your article. Games start & end at the line of scrimmage.
    For whatever reason, this team has not been proactive in building OL depth either through the draft or free agency. It does appear the OL is going to be weak entering the season. When you have a unproven 2nd year QB the OL is extremely important. I have to seriously question the GM’s lack of response to this glaring problem.

    • LukeNSims

      Agreed. I was advocating for a highly paid guard during the offseason because we needed someone better than Rackley (who I think would be good depth)

  • Keenan Jones

    I don’t agree with the premise of this article in regards to GM Gene. He addressed the depth on the o-line where he could with Estes, Baldridge, Bradfield, Spitz, Brewster and Whimper. Saying GM Gene’s job should be in jeapordy for the current situation with the injuries, is like blaming him for the injuries occuring. I don’t agree with that approach at all. Also, Rackley wasn’t drafted to be depth, but to be a starter. So I doubt Gene would’ve went out and got a high priced free agent such as Carl Nicks to replace. How is he expected to develop into a starter? If he doesn’t play as one. While Nicks would’ve been an instant upgrade, Rackley has the upside to develop into a very good starter in his own right. Considering the only injury that is expected to last for a long time, is Estes, I don’t see what the big deal is right now. From the current outlook, the starting lineup of Monroe, Rackley, Meester, Nwaneri and Britton will be ready to go.
    Excuse my defensive stand here, but everytime someone offers a reason to fire GM Gene, it’s rarely a legit reason, which is my take on the reason offered here. I’ll always be in support of Gene as long as this team is getting better, which is what it has been gradually doing since he’s took over as GM.

    • LukeNSims

      I don’t think it’s time for Gene to be fired. I also think he did a good job at other personnel moves, but Khan wants a winner. You can’t blame a GM for injuries, but not getting a replacement better than Guy Whimper (who he extended) at right tackle for the oft-injured Britton is a risky move. I am hesitant to say Rackley will be a good starter until he shows it. I was highly unimpressed with his play last season – even though he showed development as the year progressed. I am not a fan of John Estes and think that Bradfield will forever be a man kept around for depth. Gene and I disagree and he’s in charge of the team, but if we see 35+ sacks on Gabbert the Khan may start to see things the same way I do.

      Smith has built a solid (very solid) team through the draft, but I think he’s too hesitant to add big, expensive pieces that could outplay his cherished draft picks and start for years to come. Sometimes getting a known commodity is better than hoping that someone reaches their potential. That’s more my point here. I think we have a lot of guys with potential but not enough of a “sure thing” in the guys expect Monroe, Meester, and Nwaneri. The depth and other positions (Britton when injured…he’s usually excellent when healthy) do not impress me thus far.

      I’m not advocating for Smith being fired. I am saying his seat could get hotter if this wager doesn’t turn out in his favor.

      Hopefully I clarified? Your points were very well put and well received.

      • Keenan Jones

        Clarified indeed. And quite well I might add. You’re right, the sure things is much more assuring than the “wait and see” approach. Can’t argue with that.