Jaguars Offensive Line Pass Protection was Low “Degree of Difficulty” in 2014, According to Pro Football Focus
Jacksonville Jaguars rookie quarterback Blake Bortles had a pretty rough go of it in his rookie season. He finished the year with 17 interceptions to go with only 11 touchdowns, completing only 58.9% of his passes and averaging a paltry 6.12 yards per attempt. His 21.9 Total QBR was the worst in the NFL by a pretty wide margin, and the fifth worst season since they started tracking QBR in 2006.
All that taken into consideration, there were a lot of things working against Blake Bortles in 2014. His offense was comprised of an unprecedented amount of rookies, including almost all of his pass catchers. There were as many as 8 rookies on the field for the offense at times this season, and it showed as the Jaguars were one of the most inconsistent teams in the NFL. While Blake Bortles would occasionally flash some of the talent that made the third overall pick, he just didn’t have enough help around him to be successful.
One of the biggest reasons for Bortles’ struggles was the play of the offensive line, which gave up a league-leading 71 sacks in 2014. The Jacksonville coaching staff clearly saw the pass protection as a weakness and, according to Pro Football Focus, they did what they could do help the unit out.
The Jacksonville offensive line had the 2nd easiest job in pass protection in regards to “degree of difficulty.” This shouldn’t come as a shock, considering how poorly the line looked after a 10-sack performance in week 2 against the underwhelming Washington Redskins.
The Jaguars are likely going to return at least 4 of the same starters along the offensive line in 2015, so hopefully new OL coach Doug Marrone can develop the guys in place to be more effective pass blockers. This chart clearly shows the effect a poor offensive line has on play calling, and it’s hard not to think former offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch wasn’t thinking about the pass protection on every playcall. If the line doesn’t improve, Bortles won’t have any shot at developing into the franchise QB the team is envisioning him to be.