Jaguars OL answers critics, aims to build off solid start

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive line certainly seemed to answer critics with their performance against the Houston Texans last Sunday.

That includes their head coach, who had challenged the group in the days before the season opener against what is regarded as one of the league’s better defensive lines.

“I was very happy with the effort,” Doug Marrone said. “I was happy with the physicality of how they were going after it. I wish I would have known what that magic potion was earlier in training camp because I think that now the level of expectations of how they are going to play is going be challenged each week, and I think that is a good thing.

“I think when they go out and show that they can do this then, obviously, not only the coaches expect, but the players, their teammates and the people who support the program.”

The Jaguars ran for 155 yards, including 100 by rookie Leonard Fournette, and didn’t give up a sack against the Texans and J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus. It was a close-to-dominant performance from a Jaguars unit that played poorly against Tampa Bay and Carolina in the preseason.

So poorly, in fact, that Marrone played guards Patrick Omameh, Earl Watford and Luke Bowanko for much of the final preseason game because he wasn’t sure which players would start. Omameh won the job and played well against the Texans. Watford was released and Bowanko was traded.

“We try not to pay attention to the critics,” Omameh said. “At the end of the day, we know what we want to do as an offense and it’s our job to execute [and] run the scheme that we designed, and we feel we were able to do that on Sunday. It’s imperative that we continue to do that week to week.”

This week it’s Tennessee’s defensive line of end DaQuan Jones, nose tackle Sylvester Williams, and tackle Jurrell Casey. Williams is a former first-round pick who signed as a free agent this year and Casey is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances. It’s a bigger defensive line (they average 313 pounds) than what the Jaguars saw against the Texans.

If the Jaguars are indeed becoming the tougher team that Marrone and executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin say they want, then running the ball against the Titans is the best way to prove it.

“I think one big thing for us is we’re going through a culture change right now,” left tackle Cam Robinson said. “We’re trying to change the culture around here so it’s going to be part of our identity, trying to be a physical football team. I think Game 1, we kind of took a step in that direction. Now we just want to take what we did last week and just build off of it.”