I wanted to give you my first impressions from watching the coach’s film of his first 4 games this season.
Monroe is not Superman, but he’s a sharp contrast from Bryant McKinnie.
Starting with the basics, he knows his responsibility on every play. He doesn’t end up with a befuddled look and he frequently is seen communicating with the G or TE on his side.
His biggest physical asset is quickness, which he uses to gain consistent positional advantage. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of quick feet to a left tackle. He can set up effectively without giving nearly as much ground as a bigger man like McKinnie. He can also be effective defending the edge against smaller, physical pass rushers like Dumervil or Harrison. He hasn’t been charged with an illegal formation penalty in his career because he doesn’t need to cheat when lining up in fear of getting beaten to the edge.
In Jacksonville’s zone-blocking scheme, he has been solid because he’s good as a lead blocker, disciplined, and also religiously attempts to make a block on the backside of run plays. Of particular note is that Monroe is an aggressive and effective cut blocker, something McKinnie did not do either by personal choice or on the orders of his coaches.
He is penalty conscious, which can have some odd consequences. He’s been penalized 13 times since the beginning of 2011, a below-average number for a LT. This season, his lone sack allowed came against Robert Mathis in week 4 (Q3, 14:50). Mathis beat him to the outside after Monroe neutralized him to the body for approximately 3 seconds. Eugene thought he had blocked long enough for Gabbert to deliver the football. Monroe released Mathis as he turned the corner in what appears to me an attempt to avoid a holding call, but Gabbert had not yet thrown and Mathis took him down for loss of 6. Immediately, Monroe walked over to the pile and helped his QB get up.
What are his weaknesses? He can be slow out of his stance and has short arms. He makes up for some of that with his quickness, but he can struggle against big pass rushers with some quickness like Hali or Kruger.
In a sense, I like the move because Monroe has been through his growing pains as a LT. Joe Staley (2007), Duane Brown (2008), and Monroe (2009) all had difficulty adjusting to the pro game, but all became top LTs in their 3rd or 4th seasons.
It’s often suggested that drafting a “developmental tackle” such as Ramon Harewood is an option for teams without a top 10 selection. However, drafting a LT can be a developmental process even at the top of the first round.
A successful franchise rarely has an opportunity to address the position as decisively and effectively.