Jaguar Positional Analysis: Offensive Line

Although the Jaguars certainly had an up and down season in 2006, one of the reliable constants on the team was the play of the offensive line.

With Andy Heck promoted to offensive line coach before the season and the addition of former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice, the offensive line had some new schemes and great results. Heck took a group that finished 15th in total offense in 2005,with the great Jimmy Smith and their starting quarterback for most of the year, and finished 10th in 2006, including the #3 overall rushing offense. They posted these results despite missing their starting quarterback for ten games and no real deep threat at wide receiver. The Jaguars starting offensive line, made up of Khalif Barnes, Chris Naeole, Brad Meester, Vince Manuwai, and Mo Williams in '06, played a physical style of football that would make any old-school coach and football fanatic proud.

Strengths:
The Jaguars have many strengths on their offensive line, but probably the top two were run blocking and superior depth. Playing a majority of their games with a backup quarterback and young receivers, the team had to lean on the running game heavily to stay in games. The Jaguars finished the 2006 season with the third ranked rushing attack in all of the league averaging 158.8 yards per game, including 375 yards in a blowout victory over the Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts. The O-line stayed mostly injury free, but when someone was nicked up, backup Dennis Norman was more than capable replacement. Norman is a guy that can play all five positions on the line, and he subbed in for Khalif Barnes at left tackle in a game against Houston and the line didn't miss a beat. In 2007, there will be even more competition on the line with the young Richard Collier as well as Norman gaining another year of experience. The Jaguars big free agent acquisition of 2007 was right tackle Tony Pashos, who's slated to start at right tackle.

Weaknesses:
Although the Jaguars offensive line played great most of the time, pass protection was an issue from time to time. Whenever teams got pressure on the Jaguars quarterbacks, it came mostly from the right side in which Mo Williams was protecting. Most of these O-line collapses came on blitzes from the opposition in obvious passing downs, and when faced with multiple third and longs, most offenses will struggle. Williams is an all-around above average right tackle, but his pass protection is sub-par, which caused the team to sign Tony Pashos.

Overall 2006 season grade: B.
For the first time in a long time, the Jaguars created an offensive identity through the running game. Although Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew at times looked spectacular, most of their yardage would not have been possible without the big guys up front. Looking to 2007, the Jaguars expect their very good offensive line to play even better with the addition of Tony Pashos. The team has very good depth on the line, and that should make for great training camp competition.

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