The Jacksonville Jaguars are off to a 2-1 start to 2017, and are 3-2 under head coach Doug Marrone, who finished the Jaguars final two games of 2016 as the team's interim head coach. There are many reasons the team has found so much success in so little time under Doug Marrone's leadership - a big piece of the puzzle has been the offensive line play.
I, for one, appear to have been wrong about the Jaguars offseason plans in regards to the offensive line. Along with nearly every other person that covers/follows the Jaguars closely, I was disappointed by the lack of big time changes to the Jaguars offensive line during the 2017 offseason. There were ample opportunities for the Jaguars to add quality offensive lineman to their roster, but the Jaguars ended up adding only one new starter to the offensive line - rookie second round pick, left tackle Cam Robinson. I criticized the organization for not doing more to address the offensive line in the offseason, and am fully prepared to eat crow on that if the Jaguars offensive line continues to play like it has to this point.
Since Doug Marrone took over as the team's head coach at the end of 2016, the Jaguars offensive line has been one of the best in football. That's right - ONE OF THE BEST IN FOOTBALL. This group has improved both in pass protection and in creating running lanes for the Jaguars' backs.
The Jaguars O-line has given up two sacks in three games so far in 2017 and going back to the two games under Doug Marrone in 2016 they've given up just five sacks in five games under their new HC. In week one, against the vaunted Texans defensive line, the Jaguars gave up only one QB hurry and no sacks. Their improvement in pass protection has certainly benefited Blake Bortles, and the offense as a whole, and helped the team rack up 44 points in London yesterday -- another performance against a big time pass rush that netted zero sacks of QB Blake Bortles.
They've been mostly impressive in run blocking situations too. Sure, they've gotten a few too many penalties called on them and at times there hasn't always been a ton of running room, but for a Jaguars team that has been abysmal running the ball over the last couple of seasons, it appears that a switch has been flipped. The offensive line, under coach Marrone, has paved the way for a rushing attack that has averaged 137 yards a game on the ground and has found the end zone in each of Doug Marrone's five games as head coach. This season the offensive line has benefited from the addition of Leonard Fournette and a fully healthy Chris Ivory, but they've done their part against some tough run defenses and deserve a ton of the credit.
Five games isn't a huge sample size, but it's all we have to go off of at this point. The Jaguars offensive line appears to a completely different group under the leadership of Doug Marrone. There's no question the addition of long time Giants O-Line coach Pat Flaherty in the 2017 offseason has also benefited the group. If they keep up this level of play, the Jaguars offensive line will transform from a question mark into one of the best groups in football.
They'll face a tough test against the Jets impressive defensive front next week. Do you think they'll be up to the task?
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