Protect Blaine Gabbert! Can Will Rackley Do It?
By Luke Sims
Poised for a big sophomore year, Rackley’s season ended before it even got started in 2012. Source: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
The Jacksonville Jaguars were abysmal in pass protection during the 2012 season. Very few offensive linemen graded well and the 50 sacks they allowed during the season are just further proof that the unit played poorly. But what if the solutions to the problems were already on the roster?
The Jaguars had a number of changes along their offensive line throughout the season. Right tackle was an unsettled mess the entire year and left guard failed immediately following an injury to incumbent Will Rackley who landed on IR. Right tackle needs a complete overhaul, but what if Rackley had stayed in for the 2012 season?
We looked at the offensive line in depth during our “Diagnosing 2-14” series and it looked like the left side of the offensive line could have done pretty well with a decent left guard in the mix. If Rackley had been healthy, then Eugene Monroe, Rackley, Brad Mester, and Uche Nwaneri could have anchored a line with a hapless right tackle position. Instead there was a major hole between left tackle and center. With the Jags looking to go defense, defense, and more defense in the draft it’s good to look at Rackley and ask, “Would he have helped?”
Rackley was thrust into the starting role at left guard during his rookie season. Drafted in the third round of the 2011 draft out of Lehigh, Rackley was not up to speed for the NFL and it showed. In 2011 Rackley allowed six sacks, seven QB hits, and 27 QB hurries 515 pass blocking snaps. His replacements, Mike Brewster and Eben Britton allowed a combined 7 sacks, 11 QB hits, and 29 QB hurries on 533 pass blocking snaps. Rackley was better than Britton and Brewster, but just barely.
Rackley was with the Jags when Maurice Jones-Drew won the rushing title, but he was by no means a strong run blocker. Neither were Brewster and Britton, though. Would Rashad Jennings, Jalen Parmele, and Montell Owens have done better behind Rackley? Maybe, but that could be because of the cohesion that offensive line units gain over time together.
Rackley is likely not the solution to the Jaguars’ offensive line woes, but he would be a step up from where they were in 2012. Entering his third year, the team website, and Rackley himself, think that he would have made significant strides during 2012 had he not been injured. With the Jags looking to go defense in the draft, I hope they are right.
– Luke N. Sims
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