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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars 2018 Position Group Breakdown: Linebacker

Ruairi Songer

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After the departure of Paul Posluszny, a young and talented Jaguars LB core will be burdened with unfamiliar responsibilities. Telvin Smith, OLB, will take over the leadership role that Poz left behind.

Smith has quickly progressed into being one of the best LBs in all of the NFL in only four years. In each of those years he recorded 100+ tackles, and a handful of interceptions and forced fumbles. Smith’s sideline-to-sideline defending capabilities make him a nightmare for opposing offenses. While his play on the field should continue at a strong rate, he is also going to have to mentor Blair Brown, Myles Jack, and Donald Payne. Being as passionate and fiery of a player as Smith is, he should have no issue adjusting to this “veteran” style role.

Projected linebacker depth chart

*Note: Italics = starter, Underline = Acquired in 2018 FA/Draft

LB: Telvin Smith¸ Myles Jack, Donald Payne, Blair Brown, Leon Jacobs

Myles Jack had an impressive 2017 and played well at SAM linebacker, after originally struggling at the MIKE position. Going into his 3rd year as a Jaguar, Jack should be more confident and capable of playing MIKE in place of Poz. Jack recorded 90 tackles and two sacks last year, a huge jump in production from his 24 tackles in 2016. I expect a good year from Jack, but with a hiccup or two due to being moved to the MLB spot.

After many expected Blair Brown to take over MLB or SAM, Donald Payne stole the show at OTAs hopes to continue to do so at training camp. Payne was a Ravens UDFA signing in 2017, but was failed to make the final roster. He was claimed off waivers by the Jags soon after, and he went on to record 13 tackles and played well on special teams. It is difficult to evaluate Payne because he has little real playtime, but he should be an interesting player to watch develop.

Blair Brown had a decent rookie year, but was very limited on playtime. Most of the stories out of training camp so far denote Payne as the front-runner for the newly vacant SAM position. I expect Payne to take this role with Brown as his backup.

Leon Jacobs, rookie out of Wisconsin, is an incredibly gifted athlete and was a contributor to a talented Wisconsin defense in 2017. Jacobs has explosive speed and is ridiculously built (see: this Instagram post), but will have to work on his instinctiveness and ability to diagnose plays. He adds value as a pass rusher due to his quick first step, speed and power. Look for Jacobs to take a possibly take a starting role in 3-4 years.

Check out the rest of the Locked on Jaguars position group breakdowns below:

Ruairi Songer is a lifelong Jags fan and Duval native. You can follow him on Twitter (@ruairi_s) for Jags news, Draft information, and off-season updates.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars Release Jamaal Charles, Promote Linebacker DeLuca

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have released running back Jamaal Charles after trading for Carlos Hyde and have promoted Linebacker Nick DeLuca. Charles was brought in to be a change of pace back for the Jaguars after placing Corey Grant on season-ending injured reserve.

The Jaguars traded for Carlos Hyde last week making Charles expendable. Charles accounted for 7 yards on 6 caries for the Jaguars. He also added two catches for seven yards. Running back Leonard Fournette has not been ruled out to play this week either and will travel with the team to London according to Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone.

Nick DeLuca is a rookie linebacker from NDSU. He was signed to the practice squad earlier in the season and has now been promoted due to the injury to linebacker Donald Payne. Payne will be out at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury.

 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Editorial: The Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin

Zach Goodall

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Oct 21, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and forces a fumble during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

In electing to stick with Blake Bortles as their starting quarterback, despite benching him for a poor performance against the Texans and watching his backup Cody Kessler vastly outperform him in the same game, the Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin.

Now sitting at a 3-4 record, on a three game losing streak, and in third place in the AFC South (the Titans own the tiebreaker for second place), it was clearly time for change to get this ship steered in the correct direction. Just seven weeks aggo, this Jaguars team was viewed as a potential Super Bowl contender. Right now, this team is projected to pick in the first half of the 2019 NFL Draft.

And they can’t blame anyone but themselves at this point.

“We can’t do s**t until we stop turning the ball over. Period. That’s just how it is,” head coach Doug Marrone said following the loss to the Texans. “…the first thing we’ve got to do is stop turning the damn ball over.”

In three consecutive games, the latest of which he barely played past halftime, Bortles has eight turnovers of his own: Five interceptions and three fumbles.

“I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win,” Marrone stated in a release from the team after Bortles was named the team’s starter going forward.

What?

In a 24 hour period, Marrone has stated that, while turnovers are the Jaguars biggest issue, the player who is responsible for countless amounts of turnovers gives the team the best chance to win football games. That is the message that is being sent to this team, and the Jaguars fan base.

And the team isn’t happy. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was quoted saying “It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now,” after the loss to the Texans. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to assume this was shade thrown at the quarterback situation.

Ramsey deleted a post of him and Bortles shaking hands on the field from his Instagram this morning.

Defensive tackle Abry Jones put the responsibility of the offenses deficiencies on the defense, quoted saying “We can’t let them [opposing offenses] score at all.”

The Jaguars have chosen to be complacent, and in doing so, this season will continue to plummet. The confidence is low heading into London this week, and the Eagles pass rush should have an easy job forcing Bortles into more poor decisions as this Jaguars team appears to be on track to a 3-5 record at their bye week.

This team was supposed go contend this year. At one point in September, the Jaguars had single digit odds to win the Super Bowl. But that is all in the rearview mirror, as the Jaguars have nailed their own coffin in naming Blake Bortles the starting quarterback of a team that is already beginning to implode.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars announce Blake Bortles will remain the starting QB

Zach Goodall

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Sep 16, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) attempts a pass against the New England Patriots during the first half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

24 hours removed from his first career benching, where he was clearly outplayed by his own backup in a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans, Blake Bortles has been named the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles in London, per the team.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced in a statement: “I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win.”

This comes under two hours removed from Marrone saying he had made his decision already but planned on addressing the team before releasing that information to the public. Bortles was benched after committing two turnovers against the Texans on Sunday, and Kessler completed 21/30 passes for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his place.

Bortles has committed eight turnovers in the past three weeks.

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