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NFL Annual Meeting 2024: Pederson Feels Good about Offensive Line

0327 Owners Meeting OLINE Article

ORLANDO – He likes what's new and what's returning.

Doug Pederson, too, likes how those elements could fit together – and overall, he likes much about the Jaguars' offensive line. None of which means the group doesn't have to improve.

"I feel good," the Jaguars' head coach said this week of the offensive line.

Pederson, entering his third season as the Jaguars' head coach, discussed multiple issues about the offense when meeting with the media this week at the 2024 NFL Annual Meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Lakes. He discussed multiple free-agent moves, and how they will affect a unit that was effective at times in 2023 and also was affected by injuries throughout the season.

Among the most-discussed areas of the unit this offseason: An offensive line that struggled at times in 2023 – particularly on the interior and particularly as a run-blocking unit.

"The biggest thing we have to do for us is we do have to get better in the run game," Pederson said.

The Jaguars in 2023 finished 24th in the NFL in rushing, with running back Travis Etienne Jr. rushing for more than 1,000 yards for a second consecutive season. Etienne, the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, was one of the NFL's most-explosive running backs in 2023 and used that dynamic play-making ability to rush for 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns.

But Etienne averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, and the Jaguars as a team averaged 3.6 yards per carry – which tied for second-lowest in the NFL. They also were second in the NFL in runs of no gain or a loss (120), which led to short-yardage and red-zone issues that hurt the offense's overall effectiveness.

"Even as well as TJ (Etienne) played, we still have to get better," Pederson said. "There is still more on the table. You've got to be able to run the ball in this league as well. That helps your quarterback. It sets up a lot of different things for you. So that's something as a staff we've been focused on this offseason."

The Jaguars’ major offseason move on the offensive line thus far: Signing center Mitch Morse, a 10-year veteran who spent the last five seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

"It's just a matter of getting better at a position, getting better as a group," Pederson said. "Mitch brings a veteran presence. He's done it for several years now. It's really somebody that [2022-2023] starter Luke [Fortner] can invest some time in learning from and understanding.

"Mitch's strengths can be Luke's weaknesses and vice versa, Luke's strengths and Mitch's weaknesses. They can really work together and have that competition that you want."

The Jaguars also this offseason re-signed left guard Ezra Cleveland, who joined the team in an October 2023 pre-trade deadline trade with the Minnesota Vikings. The team retained three other starters from 2023 – left tackle Cam Robinson, right tackle Anton Harrisonand right guard Brandon Scherff.

Harrison, Scherff and Fortner all started all 17 games in 2023, Robinson started nine games at left tackle, with Walker Little starting seven games there and Cleveland starting one. Ben Bartch started three games at left guard with Tyler Shatley starting six games there, Cleveland starting four and Little starting four.

Pederson earlier this offseason discussed the need for continuity along the line, and he reiterated that point this week. He called the line of Robinson, Cleveland, Fortner, Scherff and Harrison a "snapshot" of how the line was supposed to look – and noted that that group only started together in a Week 18 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.

"That was supposed to be the original, not the original five to start the season, but when we got Ezra, that was supposed to be what it looked like," he said. "Pederson said. "They only played one game together. Our left guard was a revolving door early in the season. We're excited for this upcoming offseason to get those guys working together."


  • Pederson this week discussed multiple Jaguars offseason acquisitions, including wide receiver Gabe Davis– who played his first four seasons with the Bills. Davis, a fourth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, started 47 of 64 games in four seasons with the Bills and caught 163 passes for 2,730 yards and 27 touchdowns. "He's big, he runs extremely well, he's physical as far as blocking," Pederson said. "Gabe is, to me, like a Swiss army knife. He can obviously run routes. The guy is right around 81-82 targets a year for the last four years if you average them out. He's going to be another key piece to what we're doing and we can put him in positions to block, we can put him in positions to run, he's a good route runner, he's strong, he's big. All things are positive with Gabe and really looking forward to getting him in there and seeing how he does fit with [wide receivers] Christian [Kirk] and Zay [Jones] and even [wide receiver] Devin Duvernay now, getting him in that mix – and obviously [wide receivers] Parker Washington and Elijah Cooks … some of the young guys we have. It should be a really good, exciting offseason to see just how we can make all these pieces work."

Fight. On. The. Line. Swipe through best shots of the Jaguars offensive line in the 2023 season ➡️

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