During the offseason, the Jaguars took some major hits to the linebacker position. From the unexpected announcement that Telvin Smith would be sitting out for the duration of the 2019 season, to the detrimental injuries of key players who looked to fill in during Smith’s absence.
The Jaguars continue to look for a solidified starting unit to begin the season against Kansas City. One of the weakest positions in terms of depth on the Jacksonville team going into the offseason, players that were picked up via free agency in the offseason looking to take on a larger role than anticipated.
While Miles Jack is a lock at middle linebacker, the players around him will vary. The rotation of outside linebackers will allow the Jaguars defense to use players’ strengths on certain downs. The goal is to maximize the potential of these players and work towards remaining one of the best defensive attacks in the league.
Projected Depth Chart:
WLB (Weak-side): Quincy Williams, Najee Goode
MLB: Myles Jack, Joe Giles-Harris
SLB (Strong-side): Leon Jacobs
Entering his fourth season out of UCLA, Jack has been put into a situation where he must lead the group of linebackers in Jacksonville. Jack is a shining young star among defensive talent in the league.
Taken in the second round of the 2016 draft, Jack has proven to be the first-round talent whose stock fell due to a knee concern just before the draft festivities began that year.
Over his career in Jacksonville, Jack has accounted for 221 tackles, five sacks, and two takeaways. Jack has the talent to be a dynamic middle linebacker in today’s league. Someone that looks to fly around the field and hit the ball carrier with bruising power. Jack is an efficient run-stopper who has shown he can make big tackles in the open field.
Before being injured before the first preseason game, the rookie linebacker out of Murray State saw extensive action as a starter in Jaguars training camp and was praised for his performance.
“When the ball is snapped, I think he might be the fastest player on our football field right now.” Marrone recently stated in an interview discussing what the team has seen from their third-round pick and what he has brought to the table thus far.
Williams got off to a quick start for Jacksonville as he showed that despite his smaller frame, he was able to pursue the ball with great speed, acceleration and can lay hits on opposing players with the best of them. Along with his hard-hitting and speedy nature, he brings to the table,
Williams is also someone that takes precise angles in tracking down a ball carrier to assure he makes the play.
As he continues to grow under the mentorship of Myles Jack and the Jaguars staff, Williams has the possibility of being a key playmaker at weakside linebacker for years to come.
After the retirement of Paul Posluszny, Leon Jacobs was the next man up for the Jacksonville linebacker corps. With Myles Jack sliding over to middle linebacker, Jacobs was destined to take over the strong-side spot. But, after a disappointing showing he put on throughout the preseason and start of the regular season, the Jacksonville staff had to look in a different direction.
Jacobs only started three games and had very minimal impact on the 12 games he played in. Recording only 16 tackles in that span.
Going into his second year as a projected starter, Jacobs has more experience under his belt when it comes to how the game flows in the NFL. While he is still looking to mature in the way he plays the game, Jacobs is someone the Jaguars consider experienced in his role that is without a doubt capable of playing at a high level.
Jacksonville doesn’t look for Jacobs to be a dominant playmaker on the defense side. All they ask of his is to make plays when needed and use his coverage skills against tight ends out in space.
Throughout the preseason, Najee Goode has seen extensive action for Jacksonville for a mixture of reasons. One is due to the Jaguars starting unit only playing in one of four preseason games in an attempt to avoid injury that derailed their season last year. Another reason being that Quincy Williams sustained an injury on the fourth day of training camp and needs six weeks to recover.
Taking advantage of Williams’s injury has nearly solidified his spot on the roster as a backup.
After bouncing around the league since he was drafted in 2012, Goode has had the opportunity to learn multiple different approaches to playing defense. Bringing in a lot of knowledge to the Jaguars locker room to be a leader in the film room in diagnosing and countering play calls the opposing team may make. While his impact on the field may be minimal, his impact on the field is much larger for a young linebacker group.
Goode has experience coming off the bench for a successful team making him a viable option for the Jaguars in case anyone goes down. Goode will be a rotational piece at weakside linebacker barring injury of any sort.
After an impressive preseason, Joe Giles-Harris is the last player to earn a spot on the Jacksonville Jaguars 53-man roster. The undrafted rookie out of Duke has shown the Jacksonville staff that he is focused on earning a spot on the team.
While at Duke, Giles-Harris tallied 313 tackles, eight and a half sacks, 2 interceptions and one forced fumble. A player that was considered the number eight overall linebacker in the 2019 draft class has the talent to be a sleeper in making the Jacksonville roster especially with the lack of depth at the position.
The 22-year-old from Nyack, New York has been battling with D.J. Alexander for the final spot on the linebacker group where they are neck and neck. With the mixture of veterans and inexperienced players on the linebacker unit, Jacksonville has the freedom to go either way with this one.
The biggest thing Jacksonville will look at is the potential to develop these two players which will ultimately give Giles-Harris the upper hand. Being a rookie, he has more room for improvement and will continue to develop under the tutelage of Jaguars linebacker coach Mark Collins. Whereas Alexander has shown what his potential is, recording only 43 tackles in his four years in the NFL with three different teams.
The fresh young talent of Giles-Harris who plays at the same level as the veteran Alexander will give him the nod to make the final roster cut going into the 2019 season.
Players not making the team:
While there are many talented linebackers on the Jaguars, not all can stay. Among those will be former Packer Jake Ryan, who is scheduled to be a seven million dollar cap hit next season and will ultimately be let go because of that. Others that will not make the team includes Ramik Wilson, D.J. Alexander, Connor Strachan, and David Tull.
The Jaguars have had a rebuilding of sorts with the linebacker unit in the offseason.
With Telvin Smith set to sit out for the 2019 season, Jacksonville hopes they have built a sustainable unit of linebackers to compliment Myles Jack and what they look to do in Todd Wash’s system.
If the unit can carry on the success seen at the position and sustain a strong front seven, Jacksonville’s defense will once again remain the top five in the National Football League.
Jaguars vs. Texans preview: Keys to success, matchups to watch
The Jaguars look to rebound in a major way this Sunday against the Houston Texans. It all starts with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, II who will start in place of the injured Nick Foles.
Nick Foles is out, and Gardner Minshew is in. The outcome for Sunday’s game against the Texans will likely be determined by the ability of the rookie quarterback. In order to be successful, the team must play better on defense and around Minshew.
Game Time info
- When: Sunday, September, 15th 1:00 PM ET
- Watch: CBS47 (click)
- Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM
Five Keys to Success
- Stay healthy
We put this every week, but I suppose the Jaguars are not listening. The Jaguars will be without at least six players due to various injuries on Sunday including offensive linemen Cam Robinson and Cedric Ogbuehi, cornerback A.J. Bouye, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, tight end Josh Oliver, and wide receiver Marqise Lee. No matter how hard the Jaguars tried to escape it, the injury bug has most definitely caught up.
- Stop (limit?) DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller
Last week, the Jaguars faced probably the best offense in the NFL in the Kansas City Chiefs. This week, they face another daunting challenge with Texans receivers DeAndre Hopkins, and Will Fuller. Fuller is one of five players in the NFL to record 10 receiving touchdowns on 100-or-less targets since 2017.
- Protect Minshew at all costs
The Jaguars absolutely cannot afford another injury at the quarterback position. Last week, the team sent a 2020 fifth-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for quarterback Josh Dobbs. There is no reason for anyone to want Dobbs to take the field on Sunday. While the Texans got rid of defensive end Jadevon Clowney, they are still a force to be reckoned with along the front seven with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus.
- Get after the quarterback
Last week, the Jaguars were unable to bring down Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. This week, they will be tasked with bringing down Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson. The good news for the Jaguars defensive line is Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson holds onto the ball (2.73 seconds per pass) much longer than Mahomes (2.42 seconds). The advantage should go to Jacksonville against Houston’s offensive line even without Ngakoue.
- Keep it simple
Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash admitted he might have gotten a little “too cute” when playing the Chiefs explosive offense last week. This week, the defensive play-callers needs to keep it simple and allow his defense to just play their game. The Jaguars gave up seven straight scoring drives to the Chiefs last week.
- Jalen Ramsey vs. DeAndre Hopkins
This is fun. Every time these two players meet, something happens. Both players will get the best of each other, and Ramsey is likely to follow Hopkins around the field as he did with Hill last week. Hopkins spoke to the media last week and complimented the cornerback, and unsurprisingly, Ramsey did the same.
- Josh Allen vs. Laremy Tunsil
With Ngakoue out, Allen will be the Jaguars number one pass rusher going up against Houston Texans’ offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Allen was highly complimentary of Tunsil last week and is looking forward to playing much better this week than he did in week one.
- Jaguars receivers vs. Texans defensive backs
Lee being out for Sunday’s matchup is inconsequential. The Jaguars top three receivers, Chris Conley, D.J. Chark, and Dede Westbrook are good to go. Chark put on a show last week against the Chiefs after hauling in four passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. The Texans secondary is suspect at best and should be a terrific matchup to watch on Sunday.
- Jaguars secondary vs. Texans’ receivers
The Jaguar secondary last week was, for lack of a better word, awful. Giving up 378 passing yards will not get it done. The Jaguars ranked second in pass defense last year, and currently rank 29th after their week one loss. Something’s gotta give this week against the Texans and the Jaguars will see — even without Bouye — how they will move forward on defense.
Players to watch
Gardner Minshew — Minshew Mania ran rampant in Jacksonville this week, off of a loss. If the mustache wearing, jorts sporting, rockstar from Mississippi can lead the Jaguars to victory there may be a parade. Absolutely the key player of the week, and the number one player to watch against the Texans on Sunday. Minshew will need to stay within himself and lead the Jaguars offense to scoring drives early and often. His old ball coach believes in him, do you?
Tre Herndon — Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon needs to be ready against the Texans on Sunday. Going up against DeAndre Hopkins and/or Will Fuller is no easy task. Herndon said after practice on Friday that his preparation for Sunday’s game has not changed and he has leaned on Bouye for how he should cover Fuller and Hopkins. Both receivers present different, but equally effective difficulties.
Leonard Fournette — Fournette was off to a rather stellar game against the Chiefs last week before the Jaguars defense put them in a hole forcing the team to turn to the passing game. If the Jaguars can remain balanced on Sunday, Fournette should be in for another solid game, adding onto his 5.3 yards-per-carry average for the season.
Marcell Dareus — Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus missed last week’s matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs due to an elbow injury. Now that he’s back, the 331-pound defensive tackle should provide a force in the middle of the field, eating up blockers and allowing the linebackers to move more freely to the ball carrier. It will be important to keep a close eye on him as the game moves forward to see how healthy he truly is.
Official game prediction: Jaguars 10, Texans 24
Jaguars officially rule out Bouye, Lee against Texans
The Jaguars have officially ruled out cornerback A.J. Bouye and receiver Marqise Lee for Sunday’s matchup against the Houston Texans.
After being listed as questionable following Friday’s practice both A.J. Bouye (hip) and Marqise Lee (knee) have been ruled out for the Jaguars match against the Houston Texans tomorrow.
CB A.J. Bouye (hip) and WR Marqise Lee (knee) have been downgraded to OUT, as they will not travel with the @Jaguars to Houston.
— Tad Dickman (@TDickman89) September 14, 2019
Lee came into the week after playing in his first regular-season game since December 2017 with progress on his surgically repaired knee. After being limited in practice on Thursday for “precautionary reasons”, Lee did not participate on Friday.
Coming into this season there were legitimate questions whether or not Lee would be ready for week one. There are not legitimate concerns on whether the receiver has suffered a setback on his knee or if this was in the plans all along. The latter seems unlikely.
Receivers Keelan Cole and C.J. Board will step up in place of Lee on Sunday.
Bouye battled through a hip injury all week and was limited in both Thursday and Friday’s practices for the team. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone all but ruled him out after being asked about the chances of the cornerback playing on Sunday during his post-practice press conference yesterday stating, “I’d probably think, probably doubtful. We’ll be ready to go. We’re planning on him probably not playing. I’m sure he’s going to give it everything he has to be healthy.”
With Bouye out, second-year cornerback Tre Herndon will likely start in his place with D.J. Hayden remaining in the slot. Herndon spoke about the prospect of him playing a bigger role on Sunday shortly after practice concluded on Friday.
“In the position that I’m in, being that fourth corner, that’s kinda my card. Anyone get down, get tired, [I] gotta be able to step in and cut no slack. That’s my mindset, treating it like another game. Blessed with the opportunity and try to make the most out of it.”
Herndon will need to be on his A-game during Sunday’s matchup as he is likely to be covering Will Fuller or DeAndre Hopkins. Both players pose a significant threat to the Jaguars secondary.
The Jaguars have now ruled out six players for Sunday’s matchup including Bouye, Lee, tight end Josh Oliver (hamstring), offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi (hamstring), defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (hamstring), and left tackle Cam Robinson (coaches decision).
Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen is just getting started
Selecting defensive end Josh Allen at seventh overall was — by many observers — a complete steal by the Jaguars. Now, the young pass rusher is honing his craft to become one of the best in the league.
Throughout the offseason, preseason, and now shortly into the regular season, Jaguars fans and the Jaguars coaching staff have seen the type of versatility, pass rush, and skill set Josh Allen can provide to the team.
Whether it’s playing linebacker, defensive end, or defensive tackle, Allen can do it all. Coming into the 2019 NFL Draft, Allen was thought of as more of a 3-4 outside linebacker. However, in just a few months the now-275-pound athlete is proving otherwise.
“The most I can do man is the better I can be,” Allen told Locked on Jaguars shortly after practice this week when asked about his versatility. “It means I can be out there on the field more, doing more things. I love being a versatile player, I love being able to do a lot of different things so I can stay on that field as much as I can and make plays for my team.”
The Jaguars rookie played 75% of the team’s defensive snaps last week (51/68 plays) while seeing action at three separate positions — defensive end, defensive tackle, and outside linebacker. Allen has also shown he can defend the pass, especially in the flats as seen during the team’s third preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.
The fiery pass-rusher dons the number 41, a number in which he himself admits is unconventional, and while at first, he did not care for it, it eventually grew on him.
“My freshman year I thought it was my locker number,” Allen said while laughing. “I wasn’t happy when I got it. I was trying to change it, to be real. You know they told me I couldn’t and it just stuck with me and I just kept wearing it.”
Typically a player’s number has some sort of significance to it, but that is not the case for Allen. What is significant to him, however, is his son. The absolute reason why he suits up and plays with the intensity that he does on the gridiron. While Allen wants to be the best player, his son has always, and will always come first.
“You know I got in this game to give my family a better opportunity at life, and now that I’m here man, it’s just my main focus is to provide for my family and provide for myself.”
While at Kentucky, Allen nearly entered the draft as a junior, but once his son was born he had a different perspective on life, and on football. As a junior, Allen posted seven sacks and 10.5 tackles-for-loss. Respectable numbers which likely would slot him in the first to the third-round range. Allen took it as a challenge and flourished.
During his senior year, Allen posted record-setting numbers with 17 sacks and 21.5 tackles-for-loss which — for a Kentucky defensive player — is unheard of. To that end, Allen quickly climbed draft boards, many slotting him in as a top-three pick.
Now in the NFL, Allen is striving for even more. “Of course I want to be the best,” Allen said. “I got a little bit on my shoulders, but I’m willing to go a long mile with that.”
The defensive end will have a lot on his shoulders this Sunday. With his partner-in-crime Yannick Ngakoue out with a hamstring issue, many assume Allen will need to pick up the slack left by the pro bowler’s absence, but that is not his mentality at all. Instead, Allen looks at it in a rather selfless, team-oriented perspective.
“It is what it is,” Allen said when asked about Ngakoue being out on Sunday and him playing a little more. “I pray he gets better. That’s main priority number one, is for him to get healthy. It’s not about me playing more or him not being here. It’s about him being healthy and us playing 100% on the defense.”
Allen has been about the team more than himself since college, illustrating that with his desire to suit up in a bowl game he didn’t necessarily have to play in. Now in Jacksonville, that perspective has not changed. Similar to his role on Sunday.
“My role hasn’t changed any,” Allen said. “I played when he was in the game, played when he (Ngakoue) wasn’t in the game. It’s not gonna be a big change for me, but I just pray he gets better so we can be a complete unit.”
While Allen’s role may not change for Sunday, not having Ngakoue will most definitely affect the Jaguars chances of winning. Ngakoue has yet to miss a game during his four-year career, and has been the most productive edge rusher on the team during that span, along with defensive end Calais Campbell.
Allen didn’t grow up a football player, and instead played basketball the majority of his life. Once he put the football pads on, however, Allen says he started studying all kinds of pass rushers. Allen would go on to list them off. (Bears defensive end) Khalil Mack, (Broncos outside linebacker) Von Miller, (Former Broncos outside linebacker) DeMarcus Ware, (Colts defensive end) Justin Houston. Some of the best defensive ends, and football players of the past decade. “I feel like I can do the stuff they do,” Allen quipped.
Allen has drawn comparisons to Mack and Miller throughout the draft process and even now shortly into his professional career. If Allen can “do the stuff they do”, he will have been an absolute steal as many pundits predicted.
For now, Allen will continue to hone his craft and stay under the wings of Campbell and Ngakoue. He has leaned on both players for guidance throughout the offseason, and into the regular season. “Calais has been in the league for a long time, Yan for a little bit of time — he’s one of those primetime players,” Allen said. “Having them in my corner has been a blessing, a big help. Not only is it gonna help me, but they’re gonna help the whole team as well.”
Now, going into his second career game, his next test will be against one of the best offensive tackle’s in the game in Texans offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil. “He’s a big guy, he’s real physical on the point of attack,” Allen said when asked what he’s seen out of Tunsil on tape. “It makes a lot of big plays. He’s [a] real athletic tackle — that doesn’t discredit anything — so we’re still gonna have to put the pressure on him and get to the quarterback.”
It’s clear former Wildcat thinks highly of himself. Last week, Allen was credited with having three pressures and one quarterback hit according to Pro Football Focus — the most amount of overall pressures on the team. Yet, the defensive end described his play as just “alright”, when asked about it.
“I know I can work on some things to get better and plan to do those this week.”
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