With a little over a month left until the start of training camp, and with OTAs and mini-camps behind us, I will continue to look at each position individually. I’ve already covered every position on the offensive side of the ball, and today I will take a comprehensive look and ask, “what can the Jaguars do better offensively in 2013?”
First and foremost, I’d like to think that the area that will feel the biggest improvement will be the offensive line. Not much has been said about how second overall pick Luke Joeckel has looked this offseason. This can be attributed to several different factors. Maybe it’s the Blackmon suspension. Maybe it’s the Jones-Drew arrest. Whatever the case may be, Joeckel has been somewhat lost in the media mix. I’m going to go on record and say right here and right now that the infusion of one of the best offensive tackles in this year’s rookie class will make the biggest difference along the offensive line, and quite possibly the entire offense. Protection suffered last year, and it’s being left up to Luke Joeckel to tie down that right edge.
With Monroe on the left and Joeckel on the right, it’s important that the interior of the line stays intact. Meester has been a mainstay, and OG Uche Nwaneri has been quietly consistent. The key will be Will Rackley, and the other guard spot. Continuity is incredibly important to this unit. As important as the backups are in any position, health is even more important along the offensive line as we saw last year. This unit’s play drastically declined in 2012, and for 2013 to be a more successful campaign, Joeckel will have to prove why he was the second overall pick while the rest of everyone else stays healthy enough to develop a good rapport within their ranks.
The Jaguars showed exactly what they didn’t have at the running back position in 2012 after Maurice Jones-Drew went down. Lately around the Jaguars universe, it seems as if everyone is prepared to be without Maurice Jones-Drew. I think he’ll be healthy and trouble-free come September, but nevertheless free agent acquisition Justin Forsett and 2013 5th round pick Denard Robinson must be ready to carry the load just in case something happens to Jones-Drew again. The running game last year was flat out embarrassing.
A committee approach seems to be the answer to filling the gap left by Justin Blackmon. Ace Sanders, Massaquoi, and (surprise, surprise) Mike Brown were mentioned when talking about this wide receiver committee. As great of an idea as a committee sounds, seeing as how all three of these wide receivers together don’t equate to the talent level of one Justin Blackmon, I’m of the belief that someone will have to step up and be “the guy” to complement Cecil Shorts while Blackmon is suspended. I’d rather get solid play from one of these guys rather than just OK play from a bunch of dudes trying to fill a void. My money is on Massaquoi to be the No. 2 receiver, but don’t be surprised one bit if Ace Sanders becomes the second most targeted pass catcher behind Cecil Shorts.
Or maybe Marcedes Lewis can become the second most favorite target after Shorts. It’s been noted throughout the offseason that with Joeckel actually being a talent at right tackle, that Lewis will be freed up to become a receiving threat once more.
And of course Blaine simply has to play better. He’s got more weapons and better protection this year, at least on paper. The overall unit is younger, healthier, and according to the Jaguars mothership, much, much faster. I’m projecting a better year for Gabbert. Last year was a complete mess, not just at the quarterback position, but all across the board. With improved play all around, I think Gabbert will improve as well. I’m not saying he’s making the pro-bowl, I’m simply saying that he will make progress.
I’m looking forward to seeing Jedd Fisch’s offense take shape. Here comes the long wait for July…
-David R. Johns