JACKSONVILLE – In 2018 offseason jaguars.com series featuring 11 former players talking about 11 current players, former Jaguars right tackle Leon Searcy talks with senior reporter/editor J.P. Shadrick about the Jaguars’ recent success and left tackle Cam Robinson’s development…
Question: Let’s start off with the success that finally came around for this franchise last year. What did that mean to you to see the Jaguars relevant on the national stage once again?
Answer: Well, it has been a minute. I was more so happy, not only because I could start bragging again, but I was also happy for that fan base. I played in Jacksonville for five years and I know how passionate those fans are about their Jaguars. We had a long spell of mediocrity for a while until [former head coach and current Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Tom Coughlin came in and stirred the pot. I knew when Tom Coughlin came in and they gave him the position that he was going to stir the pot, change the culture around there and he was going to get them back to their winning ways. That’s exactly the same thing that he did when I was playing. He demanded excellence each and every day. A lot of people didn’t like him or his techniques, but it was very effective. My years in Jacksonville I made the playoffs every year. I knew he was going to get the coaching staff and I knew he was going to get the players all involved in his vision. I believe his vision is to win a Super Bowl and to bring a Super Bowl (championship) to Jacksonville. I believe they have a sincere chance to do that if they keep all their pieces in place.
Q: With the Jaguars winning in Pittsburgh twice last season the Steelers-Jaguars rivalry has reheated a bit. Which side of the road are you on that these days?
A: I tell people this all the time. I was born a Steeler, but I was raised a Jaguar. That’s my focal point. (Searcy was a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1992 draft.) I love both organizations. I love the Steelers for drafting me and had the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl with the Steelers. I probably had more success career-wise with the Jaguars than I did with the Steelers. I try not to teeter on either side; I love both organizations. Jacksonville is my team.
Q: Did you watch most every game last year, and what did you think of the line play?
A: I did. Playing offensive line all my life I see the offensive line before I see anything. You can’t have an ineffective offensive line and make an AFC Championship Game. This offensive line has been effective; they led the NFL in rushing, they only gave up 24 sacks the whole season. The anchor of the offensive line is Brandon Linder, the center. He’s the one who pushes the button. He had a great season last year; he’s got to be one of the two or three best centers in the league right now. As far as the tackles go, (right tackle Jermey) Parnell was solid. He only gave up two sacks the whole season, didn’t have that many holding calls. The guy I kept my eye on was [left tackle Cam] Robinson, his rookie year. He took his beatings, not that bad, just most of the stuff he was ineffective with was mental stuff, false starts, holding – he led the offensive line in penalties like a rookie would. He did some good things. He reminds me a lot of myself in the way that he approaches the game. He’s very aggressive, plays with a chip on his shoulder, he’s very physical, he’s good with his hands. I know he’s 6-feet-6, 6-7, but sometimes he plays a little high, doesn’t play with enough knee bend. He strikes well with his hands, but sometimes he turns his hips and gives the defensive end a short corner to the quarterback. He’s got to work on his angles a little bit, but he’s a rookie. He’s going to grow and learn, and I think in the next two, three, four years he’ll be an All-Pro.
Q: Getting Cam Robinson’s upper body strength up has been a storyline, and getting him in the weight room this offseason has been key.
A: You want to be strong up top, but listen: you can ask (Pride of the Jaguars left tackle Tony) Boselli. Boselli was in the weight room with me; I wasn’t a big bench press guy. I wasn’t a guy that was going to throw up 450-500 pounds, but I was in the range of 385-400 or whatever. Everything I did was squats, cleans to keep my lower body, but I was really effective with my hands and my feet. I always put myself in positions to use my hands as weapons. A lot of these suggestions are upper body strength and how strong you are and this and that, but weights don’t hit back. I concentrated a lot of my effort on my punches and how effective I was with my punches and able to use my hands to get people off me. (Robinson) can get strong upper body-wise, but he’s also got to be effective with his feet and his hands to keep people off him. In the AFC Championship Game when he was going against [Patriots linebacker James] Harrison, he would give that one solid punch, but then he would turn his hips because he wasn’t strong enough to handle somebody like Harrison coming off the corner. Late in the game he gave up the pressures on Bortles, the one pressure and the one sack. There’s just little tweaks in his game he’s got to work on. I always tell young offensive linemen when they come in the NFL that you never stop learning until you retire. Even when you’re a seasoned vet, you’re always learning. That’s your craft. You want to build on your craft and get better each and every day.
Q: Where are you now, what are you doing these days?
A: (Laughs)… I’m in Orlando right now. I have a business that I run called “Real Men Block.” It’s a sports apparel line for offensive linemen – all the gear, the hats, hoodies, all that stuff. I do camps, combines. I’m working on getting a training facility. I’m going to be launching the company July 1, and the website will be up, all the t-shirts, hats, accessories will be up. I’m actually supposed to be doing a launch party in Jacksonville at Sports Mania in Jacksonville Beach on July 20 right before training camp. It’s my vision, my dream. I’m passionate about being an offensive lineman, so it just makes sense to go in the business of it.