Jaguars O-line Gaining Respect


Maybe I’m somewhat bitter with the national sports media, because it’s hard not to be as a Jaguars’ fan, but these days, I don’t normally put much credence in what sportswriters are filling up the web with. Too often it seems that some writers didn’t bother to do any homework or make the slightest effort to report objectively, so as not to interfere with a good story – especially when it comes to Jacksonville. There are still many whom I respect – John Clayton, Paul Kuharsky, and even our own Vic Ketchman, to name a few – because they represent the virtues of good journalism. Ross Tucker is another writer whose work I’ve become fond of and is growing into his new career admirably as a journalist with ESPN (recently transferred from Sports Illustrated). He often provides a deeply informative insight into the league, the business of the NFL, and the day-to-day inner workings of a franchise. He has experience unique to many sportswriters, having spent eight seasons in the NFL, writes with a candor and level of detail that usually makes a very compelling read. Playing as a offensive guard and center for four different teams professional and for three years at Princeton, I am inclined to respect his rankings for best offensive lines in the NFL, which is exactly what he provided in his article this week…and I think you’ll be surprised about where our Jaguars ended up.

Jags’ ranking after the jump…

Tucker’s Top 10

1. New England Patriots
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. New Orleans Saints
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
5. Philadelphia Eagles
6. New York Giants
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Jacksonville Jaguars
9. Chicago Bears
10. Kansas City Chiefs

The rest of Ross’ article can be seen here, at Sure, it’s just a small nod to Jacksonville and at the end of the day, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. The ranking and recognition is great to see, but it isn’t what matters. What does matter is that the Jaguars’ blocking is responsible for the 2nd-ranked rushing offense in the league, physically imposing their will on opponents and sustaining drives to give the defense plenty of time to catch their breath and be refreshed when they retake the field. They have also done a good job giving David Garrard time to make plays in the passing game – I certainly don’t remember many times in the last few years where a pocket lasted long enough to launch a 50 yard bomb downfield. After the woes of 2008, especially upfront for the Jags’ offense – the pass-protection issues and the lack of running lanes – it’s hard to believe that anyone would be able to call Jacksonville’s a top-10 offensive line just two years later.

If one of the young defensive ends on our roster becomes a pass-rushing force in 2011 (or Gene Smith drafts one who does), it is safe to assume that Jacksonville’s defensive line will end up in plenty of top 10 lists, as well. Two huge weaknesses of the last two years have already become our two biggest strengths. I guess it does make sense to get the big guys early.

So what will Gene fix next?

-Andrew Hofheimer