Jaguars mailbag: Defensive line isn't team's biggest weakness


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Got questions about the Jacksonville Jaguars? I’ll answer the best one every Saturday morning. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco. Please use the hashtag #jagsquestion.

@ESPNdirocco: I wouldn’t say the defensive line has been the Jaguars’ biggest weakness. Actually, I think it has been pretty darn good, especially against the run. Nose tackle Roy Miller is playing the best football of his career and deserves Pro Bowl consideration. He’s getting penetration and blowing up run plays on a consistent basis. Defensive end Jared Odrick has come on the last several weeks and is giving the Jaguars quality snaps outside and inside. Tackle/end Tyson Alualu has been solid and DT Abry Jones, whom I wrote about earlier in the week, is playing the best football of his three years, too.

The leo spot, however, has been a huge disappointment. One of the requirements of Gus Bradley’s defense is to get pressure on the quarterback with only four rushers. That means the leo has to provide that on first and second down and Chris Clemons and Andre Brach haven’t done that. That position was obviously hurt when Dante Fowler Jr. went down with a torn ACL on the first day of rookie minicamp, but the Jaguars were hoping Clemons and Branch would be able to at least pick up some of Fowler’s expected production. It hasn’t happened and the Jaguars have been forced to blitz much more than they would like.

As for the biggest weakness, I think it’s the offensive line. Some of that is due to the fact right guard Brandon Linder, the team’s best lineman, is on IR with a shoulder injury, but it’s also due to the fact left guard Zane Beadles hasn’t played at high level since the Jaguars signed him as a free agent in March 2014.

Left tackle Luke Joeckel has been solid though he still has some plays in each game in which he gets beaten badly.

The group hasn’t opened holes in the run game consistently for rookie T.J. Yeldon and that’s what has been missing from the offense. It’s clear to see that quarterback Blake Bortles, while he still needs to cut down on turnovers and raise his completion percentage, is one of the better young quarterbacks in the game and is going to be pretty darn good. Receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson have emerged as two of the better young receivers in the league and are both on pace to surpass 1,000 yards and record double-digit touchdown catches.

If the run game were better the Jaguars would be able to consistently score points and be one of the better offenses in the league. The Jaguars are going to make defense a priority in the next year or two, but they need to address the offensive line as well.