A big Jaguars storyline headed into the offseason break within the NFL is the looming contract negotiation between premier pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ngakoue burst onto the scene after being drafted in the third round by the Jaguars in the 2016 draft. He quickly asserted himself into the competition for a starting role with Dante Fowler Jr. — a former 1st round pick and a guy the Jaguars looked at as a perennial defensive end from his days at Florida.
Due to Fowler struggling to climb back his ACL tear during his rookie season, Ngakoue took advantage of the opportunity of being on a level playing field with Fowler when he touched down in Jacksonville.
Soon after, Ngakoue took the starting defensive end spot and never looked back.
In the 2018 season, Ngakoue recorded 25 tackles and 9.5 sacks for a Jacksonville team that disappointed not only their fans but many of those around the league. After a quick start to the season, they hit a wall and began to roll downhill.
Throughout all of the ups and downs in Ngakoue’s first three seasons in the NFL, he has stayed committed and healthy to play in all 48 regular season games. Not to mention the three playoff games in 2017. Over those 48 games, he has recorded 80 total tackles, 29.5 sacks, and 10 forced fumbles. Monstrous numbers for a guy that came into the league with low expectations. He blew those expectations out of the water and continues to be a force on the defensive side of the ball for Jacksonville.
Ngakoue presents a very interesting skill set as a pass rusher. While a multitude of edge rushers look to throw away the blocker and pressure the quarterback through pure strength and technique, Yannick has used his undeniable speed and length to get underneath the pass protection and hurry the quarterback. He has made a name for himself as one of the most feared defensive players in the eyes of quarterbacks in the NFL while focusing on parts of the game that are vital for winning.
Ngakoue uses three approaches in particular to his pass rushing technique. He looks to jump off the line of scrimmage as the ball is snapped and utilizes his quickness to cause pressure in the pocket, create turnovers to flip field position for his offense to flourish, and has a never say die attitude when it comes to every down.
In this play, Ngakoue fires off the line of scrimmage and gets underneath the offensive lineman before they even have the chance to get a hold of his pads to execute the block. By doing this, he is able to use his momentum gained from his jump off the line to push back the defender and get him on his heels early in the play. Ngakoue then blows past him and is able to get the strip sack on the quarterback. His speed on this play allows him to drop off the offensive lineman and have a straight path to the QB. Being lined up on the quarterback’s blind side, Ngakoue shows that he can shed off blocks and surprise the quarterback with forceful hits or bat the ball out of his hands for a potential swing in momentum.
Yannick has shown a knack of being able to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hands. Leading the NFL in forced fumbles in the 2017 season, he showed his talent of creating turnovers and giving the offense great starting field position, if those forced fumbles don’t result in a score by the defense.
In these plays, Yannick displays that knack by rounding the corner and using his reach to knock the ball out of Kiser’s hand not once but twice.
Creating this type of pressure in a game where the offense hasn’t had much production is too much to go unnoticed. Ngakoue has a zeal to be able to shift the momentum of the game to his teams’ favor. Especially in the second play where he wraps around the outside of the offensive line, knocks the ball out of Kiser’s hand, and allows Telvin Smith to recover the fumble in the end zone to escape a near upset loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Ngakoue commented on that game by saying “To be elite, to do it consistently in one game, that’s pretty special.” And he’s definitely right about that.
Ngakoue is a generational talent at defensive end and continues to lead by example on a Jaguars team that at times can lack a leader in the locker room. He shows the uncanny ability to do whatever it takes for his team to win. In 2017, Yannick was one of only 2 players in the NFL with 10+ sacks and 5+ forced fumbles (six). Who was the only other player? None other than Aaron Donald, who’s arguably the best defensive player in the NFL at the moment. Yannick’s skill set and production on the field are up there with the best. Therefore, his salary should be as well.
“Being able to change the game, and being able to get that ball out the quarterback’s hand, that wins games and for a player to be able to do that, that’s pretty special,” Yannick says during his interview with NFL network after being voted the number 88 player of the season in 2017.
While there are many abilities that the former Maryland student-athlete possesses, one that may be the most important to his success may be his mindset. He has a mamba mentality of never quitting. Not on a play, not in a game, not in a season. You will never see the man give up. This may be the biggest reason as to why the Jaguars need to pay him. For all 60 minutes of the game, he will give his team 110%.
In this clip, Ngakoue shows that never-say-die attitude by overcoming being initially taken out of the play by the offensive lineman. It looks like he may have been out of an impactful position but, he wills his way back into the play to make a big stop on third down. Seeing Jacoby Brissett step up in the pocket as Yannick is making his way around the outside, he plants his foot and comes back towards the play to turn what could’ve resulted in positive yardage from a quarterback scramble into being a loss of a yard. Being able to fight past adversity from play to play is what separates the good from the great. Yannick has proven that he is a great player, especially in his last two years.
In this play against the Bengals, Ngakoue shows great perseverance as it looks like he overshot the play. Despite hitting the ground he has the strength and ability to bounce up and get a tackle for loss. A play that could’ve turned into a big run if Yannick had not given so much effort. Being able to bounce back up and make a play as big as this one shows how hard he works to be one of the best in the league.
Ngakoue continues to be one of the most under-appreciated players in the NFL and is an elite rusher who will do anything to help his team win. While we saw a bit of a drop off from him in 2018, he still ranked 23rd in total sacks throughout the NFL with 9.5 and was a gigantic piece to the puzzle on a defense that ranked top 5 in a 5-11 season.
With many players in today’s NFL going in and out due to injury or off the field issues, Yannick has stayed consistent and put his heart and soul into the Jaguars organization. He’s shown his potential and consistency needed to really be a solid playmaker for this strong Jacksonville defense for years to come. This creates even more of a reason to sign him to a big contract extension this offseason.
Jaguars vs. Titans preview: Keys to success, matchups to watch
Distractions, distrust, disobedience. The Jaguars will have to overcome it all in order to gain a victory on Thursday against the Tennessee Titans.
This week, the Jaguars will play host to the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. Typically, an 0-2 team facing their archnemesis would have nothing but the game on their minds — especially in a short week. This week, however, has been derailed due to the unexpected trade request by cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
As the Jaguars are wont to do, they have positioned themselves in a terrible spot, and have no one to blame but themselves as to why Ramsey wants out of Jacksonville. First, however, they have a game to play.
Game Time info
- When: Thursday, September 19th, 8:20 PM ET
- Watch: NFL Network, CBS47 locally (click)
- Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM
Five Keys to Success
- Stay healthy
Staying healthy is still the theme of the season. Luckily for the Jaguars, they are getting healthy just in time for their most important matchup of the season against the Titans. Cornerback A.J. Bouye (hip), left tackle Cam Robinson (knee), and swing tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (hamstring) should all be good to go for tonight.
- Contain Derrick Henry
The Jaguars are well aware of the 99-yard touchdown run that embarrassed the team last season. While they are all sick and tired of seeing it, the team will still need to be fully aware of Titans running back Derrick Henry’s presence. Containing him, as they have done sometimes in the past will go a long way to winning this football game.
- Don’t get distracted
This team cannot afford to get distracted. At 0-2, tonight’s game becomes a must-win and getting distracted by the ongoing trade rumors surrounding their star cornerback should not affect them. The players say they are focused on the task at hand but will need to prove it.
- Figure out the offensive line
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said on Wednesday during his post-practice press conference that Cam Robinson and A.J. Cann will be starting tonight at left tackle and right guard, respectively. However, Marrone also indicated that he would not be surprised if guard/tackle Will Richardson and swing-tackle Cedric Ogbuehi get some playing time. The Jaguars need to figure out their five best offensive linemen and play them for the remainder of the season.
- Free Gardner Minshew
Last week the Jaguars let rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew loose for the final possession of the game. This week, they will need to let him loose the entire game. There’s no reason to have kid gloves on Minshew anymore. The running game has been almost nonexistent the first two weeks of the season, and the offensive line is finally getting healthy. Let Minshew-mania rock the bank tonight, and hope the “Souther Swagger” connection between himself and receiver DJ Chark, continues.
- Myles Jack vs. Derrick Henry
It is well documented what went down during their last matchup, and one player who is well aware of the Play? Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack. Jack was one of the key players who missed multiple tackles on Henry during the teams’ last meeting. Jack will need to be on his A-game tonight as the Titans absolutely will look to recreate it.
Derrick Henry with 99-yard run!pic.twitter.com/G16Oz96gPS
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) December 7, 2018
- Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Jalen Ramsey
This is kind of tongue-in-cheek, but the Jaguars will need to have the disgruntled corner reeled in for the game tonight. There is no doubt Jalen Ramsey does not want to become a distraction, however, he simply is. If he can go out and play at a high level — as he has done for the past 50 games — the Jaguars should be in good shape tonight.
- Jaguars offensive line vs. Titans pass rushers
The Titans pass rush is nothing to scoff at. Newly acquired outside linebacker Cameron Wake already has 2.5 sacks on the season, and will be looking for more against a rusty left tackle in Robinson. The Jaguars offensive line is still in flux and dealing with Wake and Titans defensive tackle Jurell Casey will be a tough task.
Players to watch
Gardner Minshew — The rookie quarterback is looking to build off of his impressive late-game heroics last week against the Houston Texans, and an impressive week one performance. The Jaguars will need to keep the rookie grounded, but allow him to play his game all the same.
Jalen Ramsey — Just keep an eye out here. Does Ramsey continue business-as-usual or does his antics during last week’s game — which ultimately led to his trade demand — continue? Our guess is Ramsey plays as if nothing is going on away from the field as he typically has.
This could be Ramsey’s last game — or more likely last home game — in a Jaguars uniform. Fans will have some mixed emotions, however, there is no argument about how much Ramsey has meant to this franchise over the past three seasons.
It is still baffling the Jaguars organization allowed it to get to this point, but here we are.
Leonard Fournette — Fournette has to play better than he did against the Houston Texans. Although he impressed with a couple of receptions, his play on inside runs left a lot to be desired. The Titans have the worst missed tackle percentage through two weeks this season (26%), and Fournette along with the Jaguars must take advantage.
It is worth noting that offensive coordinator John DeFilippo told members of the media on Tuesday he does not mind the number of repetitions Fournette has received. That trend should continue today. Last week, Fournette played on 65/67 offensive snaps.
Cam Robinson — The Jaguars offensive tackle will make his regular-season debut tonight playing for the first time in over a year. Robinson told Locked On Jaguars after practice on Wednesday while there will be some rust, he is excited and anxious to finally get out on the field.
Official game prediction: Jaguars 24, Titans 21 — Jaguars somehow overcome all the distractions and rally around their rookie quarterback.
FILM ROOM: Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is building a résumé
Drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is growing into the number one receiver the team envisioned.
After recording only 14 receptions for 174 yards during his rookie year, Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is slowly turning into a legitimate go-to receiver for the Jaguars. Only two games into the 2019 season, Chark has already accumulated 11 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
Hard work and dedication to his craft during the offseason is beginning to pay off. The young receiver believes his confidence level is growing. “A lot,” Chark told Locked On Jaguars when asked about how much his confidence level has grown. “Just from knowing where to be, when to be there. Knowing the offense. Knowing the routine. All that helped me out a lot.”
Every offseason, while players work on everything, they typically hone in on one specific area. For Chark? “My routes. That’s the biggest thing,” Chark said. “Getting in-and-out of breaks, understanding my playbook, and just tweaking small things in my game.”
While the second-year wide receiver is confident heading into week three, he knows there’s a lot he needs to do to get better. “I think I’ve been doing well, but I haven’t had a perfect game,” Chark said when asked if he was satisfied with his game. “A lot to work on, a lot to get better at. Also we 0-2. A lot we need to work on, so not satisfied, no.”
Typically, it takes about a year for a receiver to truly get into a rhythm as far as the speed of the game, knowing where to be, how to be there, and all of the little things that a receiver needs to understand. Chark has seemingly met at least some of those goals, and while he still has a lot to work on, the first two weeks into the 2019 season has been a fantastic start.
Last week against the Houston Texans, Chark accounted for seven receptions (nine targets) for 55 yards and a touchdown. The two incompletions came on an overthrown ball from rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, and a fantastic pass breakup made by Texans’ cornerback Lonnie Johnson.
Chark has built a close bond with the Minshew. Something he says is due to the “southern swagger.” Minshew was born and raised in Mississippi while Chark was born and raised in Louisianna. “We from the south,” Chark said when asked about the chemistry the two have together. “It just works that way.”
The two will hope to continue growing together as a dynamic duo over the course of the season.
Shortly after the Jaguars loss to the Houston Texans last Sunday, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone was very complimentary of the second-year receiver out of Louisiana State University stating, “I think it’s consistency…He’s a guy that can go in there and make plays and someone that is going to keep getting better and better.”
The team hopes Chark continues to show promise as the season progresses. Having ready-made chemistry with Minshew certainly helps.
Onto the film room:
Thoughts: Probably the best aspect of Chark’s game is his ability to travel from one side of the field to the other effortlessly, and with speed. Chark ran a 4.34 40-yard dash during the combine in 2018, and it shows on the crossing route ran against the Texans last week.
During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo complimented the receiver on how much work he is putting in running all over the field.
What might seem simple at first glance, Chark does a fantastic job at maintaining inside leverage with the corner while creating separation with his speed. The reception itself illustrates a consistency with his hands — something receiver had not been able to find throughout his football career.
Thoughts: Chark made good on his “southern swagger” connection on Sunday. The Louisiana native breaks on his crossing route and follows Minshew throughout to give the rookie quarterback a clear, and clean opening for a would-be game-tying touchdown. The growth and maturity in his game is obvious.
DeFilippo agrees with Chark’s opinion that his confidence is certainly growing. “He’s running across on the touchdown pass and he points up to the sky like they put it up for me,” DeFilippo said when speaking about Chark on Tuesday.
Once again, Chark uses his hands to haul in a perfectly placed football thrown by his rookie quarterback. With his confidence level rising, as DeFilippo points out, the skies the limit.
Thoughts: Against soft coverage, Chark does a fantastic job at selling the nine-route while transitioning to a stop-route just after the first-down marker. In years past Chark likely either runs the wrong route or is too hesitant at the line to sell a deep route. Now, with a full understanding of the playbook and his position, he can just run freely.
Thoughts: On his most impressive play of the game, Chark shows off his insane body control and hands catching. This is a complete 180 from his play last season when Chark was inconsistent in both areas.
The ball from Minshew comes is a beauty. Perhaps slightly earlier than he’d necessarily like, but the moment Chark turns around to look for the ball and makes a perfect adjustment in the air to make the grab on first-and-ten.
The play Minshew missed on. Depending on the move Chark would have put on Texans’ safety Tashuan Gipson this goes for six.
Chark will hope to continue the path to becoming the Jaguars number one receiver on Thursday when the team plays host to their division rival Tennessee Titans. Chark knows how important this game is coming off of a short week against a division opponent.
“It’s pretty big,” Chark said. “But I’m excited. Quick turnaround from Sunday. It’s football — going out there with my offense. Can’t wait.”
Jaguars Wednesday injury report: Bouye listed as questionable
On Wednesday, the Jacksonville Jaguars released their final injury report before their game on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans.
The Jaguars are getting ready to play after an eventful week of reports surrounding the organization. They look to stay grounded and salvage a season that look to be in for a steep decline if they can’t pull out a win in week three.
Final Week three injury report:
- There is a multitude of players back on the field this week after missing time for the Jaguars throughout the first two games. This includes the likes of Cam Robinson, who will be starting at left tackle and Yannick Ngakoue. Backup swing tackle Cedrick Ogbuehi and wide receiver Marquise Lee are also ready to return to the playing field if their number is called.
- A.J. Bouye is officially listed as questionable ahead of Thursday nights action. The Jaguars expect to have Bouye back after he missed week two with a hip injury. As he continues to work out the minor kinks and get back into football form, Tre Herndon will prepare to go in case Bouye is once again absent.
- Two players that are officially listed as out are first-time Jaguars, Josh Oliver, and D.J. Alexander. Oliver went down in training camp with a hamstring injury and continues to battle with that issue. There is no timetable for when Oliver will be able to return but he would sure help a struggling tight end group.
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