The offensive line, and injuries along it, of the Jaguars may finally ruin their chances at another win this season. The Jets aren’t the Jaguars’ last hope for getting a victory before the end of week 17, but they are a good shot. With Mike Brewster’s hand broken, the Jaguars offensive line continues to get worse.
After Eben Britton’s first season in the NFL I never thought that I was cringe when he was inserted into a starting guard spot. However, due to woeful play, Britton lost his starting right tackle spot to Cameron Bradfield this year and then he lost his starting guard spot to undrafted free agent Mike Brewster. Brewster was originally slotted to be the second center but was forced to take over at guard after Britton continued to struggle. Against the Jets, Britton will be starting at guard.
The issues of the offensive line go beyond a change at left guard though. The injuries to the unit have stretched these men too thin. Players who were to be on the bench have “emerged” to be starters in spots that desperately need warm bodies to be there. Is Brewster better than Britton? Yes. Is he better than injured reserve center John Estes would have been had he been given the opportunity to play guard? We don’t know. Is he better than last year’s starter, now on injured reserve, Will Rackley? We don’t know (but he easily could have been, let’s be honest here).
Starting center Brad Meester, the longest tenured Jaguar, will be entering the Jets game with a foot injury. He is probable to start after not participating on Wednesday. Meester has been being rested at least one day a week every week this season. Age is catching him and the players who were supposed to be behind him learning to take his spot, Estes and Brewster, are not there to learn behind him this season.
Right guard Uche Nwaneri, Meester, and left tackle Eugene Monroe have been the only constants at their positions this season. But behind them there is really nothing for the Jags to work with. Steve Vallos, signed back to the team four weeks ago, is currently backing up Meester. He is not a long term answer and is merely a place holder for an offensive line overwhelmed with inadequacy and injuries. Nwaneri has nobody behind him. The only other guard on the depth chart, Britton, is startin Sunday. If either of these guys are injured then either backup tackle Guy “Turnstile” Whimper, or Vallos will have to take their spot, leaving the offensive line tremendously weaker.
The Jets could have a big day against the Jaguars on Sunday, and a lot of it has to do with the offensive line.
This unit has struggled to remain healthy and has constantly been shuffled. It is tough for an offensive line unit to be effective when they don’t know or trust the man to their right and left. The Jaguars desperately need continuity from the big guys up front. They won’t have that on Sunday.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims