Lets face it, the last two weeks have given us flashbacks to the years spent in the cellar on the AFCS. It’s easy to blame Blake Bortles, Doug Marrone, Todd Wash, Nate Hackett, the equipment guy, my grandma and the teal pants.
We can blame everyone/thing above except my grandma, but you can blame the Dolphins lover, too if you want – she’s not on social media. The real blame lies though in a slew of injuries.
If lacking depth to overcome the injury bug is a concern, then look at Dave Caldwell and/or Tom Coughlin. Neither of whom is getting fired today or this season, so move on to the issue at hand.
Here’s the deal, the team the coaches put together for week one, doesn’t exist right now. In a few short weeks, the promising roster looks like Swiss cheese.
The coaches and players spent months practicing together, honing techniques, work ethics and building chemistry. Fans now expect, in a two-week time span, for them to just plug in any player without a missing a beat.
Here’s the injuries and the impact.
Actually, Blake Bortles needs to be addressed first even though he’s not injured because it all starts with him. We know he’s not elite. We accept it. However, we’ve seen he can be good enough to win games. Hence the frustration.
The truth is, unless he does more running and throwing on the move, the Oline has to give him a tick more time because he doesn’t release the ball quickly. It is what it is and that’s not going to change.
That’s the dilemma facing Hackett, how to draw up plays that keep the entire banged-up OL from going on Injured Reserve. That’s where this team is headed.
What do the really good lines have in common? Consistency. They, and their quarterback, take time to gel, build chemistry and get a feel for how each blocks, reads a defense, where their strengths and weaknesses come from. As one unit, they learn to help one another. This isn’t something built in a day or a month.
This especially true in zone blocking when it’s about having a partner. Which leads us to the left side.
LG Andrew Norwellwas seen as a great signing and it was – until he became hobbled. Power comes from the feet and radiates up and out. All technique comes from the feet, whether it’s OL or DL or QB, etc. If your feet aint right, you aint right.
Norwell has been dealing with calf and foot issues since training camp. He missed practices, and pre-season games.
C Brandon Linder, the QB of the OL, has been dealing with a knee.
RT Jermey Parnell has been dealing with a knee/calf ailment since training camp, as well.
Against the Patriots*, RG A.J. Cann suffered a right arm injury.
Add that all up and what you have is a revolving door of different linemen practicing and playing at different levels – no consistency and none are healthy.
Want to help Bortles, help the offense? Wave a magic wand and make them all healed. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option and I fear that until week ten, the bye, not much can change.
Tell me, what kind of cohesion can be built when inside of a few weeks, all your starters go to IR or end up on the injury report week after week?
Then there’s T.J. Yeldon who’s playing with his own ankle injury. That’s our offense.
If your offense is struggling, that usually means the defense has to play longer and harder to make up for a lack of points. What comes from a lot of playing time? Injuries.
DE Calais Campbell is the heart of the Line and he’s been hobbled for weeks.
While we haven’t seen Marcell Dareus on the injury report since training camp, he did miss the Vikings game. Meaning, he isn’t 100%, either. The question is, at what percentage is he? And with Campbell struggling, it’s up to him to work a little harder.
Tashaun Gipson Sr. has been dealing with a couple different ailments since training camp. That puts more burden on, you guessed it – the LBs and DB’s. It can also affect the DL, too because they need to work harder.
Now Jalen Ramsey is dealing with a knee injury.
People keep screaming – play more man! Guess what, kiddies? Man is tough on the body. Todd Wash may not have a choice if he wants his players to survive to week ten. He’s a smart guy and a coach everyone loved until two weeks ago, That didn’t change, but the health of his team, did.
The End Result
So, here we are. An OL that must protect Bortles a hair longer, but can’t because they’re hurt. There’s no RB1 to help out, no WR1 he had built chemistry with over the years. He has a rookie WR who’s still learning.
The current WR1 is Keelan Cole, who’s streaky and new addition, Donte Moncrief. Bortles is on his third LT and down to RB3 as his starter and behind him is an old vet just added and an unsigned rookie from another practice squad.
The bottom line is, until, or if the OL can get and stay healthy, the offense is going to struggle and that struggle will affect the defense. The bad news is it sounds as if they’re going to rush Fournette back.
All in all, there’s not much the coaches can do except channel the most creative game plans of their lives to combat such a hobbled team. It’s going to be rough on us fans, but finger-pointing and laying blame and asking for the heads of coaches isn’t going to help.
Make no mistake about it, this franchise wants to win, they’re not laying down on the job, they need our support. Injuries happen, they suck, but there’s not much they can do about it besides break the bank on trades. That isn’t much of an answer either because it doesn’t help the chemistry and consistency issue.
For right now, all we can do is cheer and give them the #DUUUVAL spirit because Lady Luck forgot to bless this team with health.