There’s a very interesting, yet also very telling stat that pretty much explains just what a mess the Jacksonville Jaguars offense is right now. And yes, it involves the quarterbacks but not in the way you might think.
In each of the Jaguars last two preseason games, a quarterback has had the team’s longest run from scrimmage, Chad Henne breaking off a 14-yarder against the Panthers on Thursday after third-stringer (for now) Brandon Allen ran for 13 yards against the Buccaneers a week earlier.
Neither, of course, was a designed run. Both were scrambles, Henne and Allen each running for their lives and making their escape from a fast-collapsing pocket, which brings us to the issue that may be even more concerning than the actual play of the Jaguars quarterbacks.
The play of the Jaguars offensive line has easily been one of the biggest disappointments of the preseason so far, and it’s not just in pass protection where the unit is struggling. As those two scrambles suggest, the Jaguars line is struggling in the running game as well.
In the last two games the Jaguars have run 46 times for 136 yards, or 4.2 per carry, which isn’t bad. But that includes the 51-yard run they got out Corey Grant on a fake punt against the Panthers. Take that away and out of traditional run sets the Jaguars are averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, the longest runs they’ve had from a running back the last two games were the 10-yarder they got from Chris Ivory during the 24-23 loss to the Panthers and the 8-yarder they got from Grant during their 12-8 loss to the Bucs a week earlier.
And of course, that’s just the half of it. While the line has struggled to open holes in the run game, where it’s allowed 13 tackles for loss the last two games, it has struggled just as mightily to close them up in the passing game, where it has also allowed five sacks and nine quarterback hits over that span.
And then there are the penalties. Jaguars linemen have been called for six holding penalties the last two games and two false starts, including one by A.J. Cann, who was also responsible for two of the holding calls the unit was flagged for against Carolina.
The worst part of all this is that the Jaguars offensive line is mostly set. With the exception of left guard, where Patrick Omameh is trying to hold off a challenge from Luke Bowanko, the Jaguars have settled on a starter at each position, so it’s not like help is on the way.
Oh, and they settled long before preseason games started, the team opting to start rookie Cam Robinson at left tackle, Brandon Linder at center, Cann at right guard and Jeremy Parnell at right tackle in the hopes they’d lay the foundation for the team’s power running attack.
Now, it must be said that the expected star of that power rushing attack, rookie Leonard Fournette, has not played the last two games. Fournette could make a huge difference here, but if he has to get most of his yards on his own, he may not be around for very long.
And where will the Jaguars offense be if that happens? Well, if the past two games are any indication, it will be right where it is now, which is to say it will be one big mess.