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Ethan Waugh on Offensive Line Upgrades: "Our Goal From Day One"

051624 On to 2024 Article

JACKSONVILLE – The offseason was about getting bigger, stronger and stouter.

That was the objective for the Jaguars on both lines – and when it comes to the offensive side, Ethan Waugh likes what he has seen.

"I feel pretty good about it," he said.

Waugh, the Jaguars' assistant general manager, spoke to the media this past Friday during 2024 rookie minicamp. With the Jaguars scheduled to begin 2024 Organized Team Activities at the Miller Electric Center Monday, Waugh during that availability discussed multiple issues.

Among them: An offensive line that has been an offseason storyline.

Waugh called center Mitch Morse, who signed as a restricted free agent in March from the Buffalo Bills, "a high-level starter" – and he also noted the team re-signed left guard Ezra Cleveland, who was acquired in a midseason trade last season with the Minnesota Vikings.

Cleveland started five of nine games after the trade, four at left guard and one at left tackle. He missed one game because of a knee injury.

"He's to the point now where he's fully healthy, which wasn't maybe necessarily the case [late last season]," Waugh said, adding that right guard Brandon Scherff has been a "good player" in two seasons since signing as an unrestricted free agent in the 2022 offseason.

Waugh also discussed the Jaguars' tackles, with right tackle Anton Harrison starting all 17 games as a rookie last season and with Cam Robinson entering his eighth season as the Jaguars' starting left tackle. Fourth-year veteran Walker Little could be the team's swing tackle.

"I think we have kind of a unique tackle situation," Waugh said. "With Cam and Walker Little, you have some versatility there. I think a lot of teams in the league don't have two tackles they feel great about. We feel like we're pretty good at that position right now, and we'll let it sort itself out as to who is on the field."

The offensive line in 2024 struggled at times with injuries and continuity, also struggling for consistency interior blocking in key situations. Waugh on Friday was asked the importance of protecting fourth-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

"From the second I got here, that's kind of the goal," Waugh said. "We feel like we have a great quarterback in Trevor. And as the season progresses, at the end of the day, Hey, where can we get better, where do we need to shore up.

"Obviously protecting him is key in keeping him upright and giving him the time to make his plays with his arm – make the receivers, allow them to make plays. It's kind of an ongoing process. You have to score points to win in this league and the more we can shore up the offense, the better."


  • Head Coach Doug Pederson, also speaking last Friday shortly before rookie minicamp, discussed defensive players adjusting to new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen's scheme. Whereas the Jaguars played a 3-4 scheme the past two seasons under coordinator Mike Caldwell, Nielsen's defense is expected to feature mostly four-linemen fronts and a variety of looks for the linebackers and secondary. "It's a different scheme," Pederson said. "You're switching gears a little bit from that 3-4 mode to kind of four-down mode. Some of the techniques are going to be a little different. There's learning with the verbiage and terminology. [In the secondary], it's a lot of shell defense to start. Even though we'll play some single high stuff, the corners are going to be in more press alignment. Not necessarily press technique or press coverage, but press alignment. [We'll] still play man, mix it up … so it's all different. Every position is going to have to learn and grow with the system."


  • Waugh on Lawrence sustaining multiple injuries in different games last season: "Don't want to see him injured at all. Don't want to see anybody injured, obviously. But yeah, that is concerning. We have to keep him upright and have to protect him, keep the bodies off of him, get the ball out of his hands. I think we're pretty good at that. But it's part of the maturation of him as a player, part of the maturation of us as a team is to play clean football. I think we're heading that direction."

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