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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

Ramsey, Fowler Suspended by Jaguars for Violating Team Rules

Demetrius Harvey

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Jun 14, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) rests on the sideline during mini camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

All-Pro Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been suspended by the Jacksonville Jaguars for a week after addressing a media member via social media today. This, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, is because of a tweet Jalen made following today’s practice. This means he will not participate in joint practices this week against the Minnesota Vikings nor will be participating in the game.

This stems from a video made by a media member today during practice featuring a scuffle between defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and defensive end  Dante Fowler. Following the posting of that video, Ramsey took to twitter and made the following tweet. Following this tweet, the Jaguars have suspended Jalen for a week.

The video in question has been posted below. Here you can see Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler get into some sort of fight. In the end, you can see Ramsey telling media members to turn their cameras off.


UPDATE: Dante Fowler has been suspended for violating team rules as well for his part in the fight today. This, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars Fall to Saints in First Preseason Game of the Year

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 9, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talk after their game at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars Game Recap

The Jacksonville Jaguars battled with the visiting New Orleans Saints for their first preseason game of the season, losing by a score of 24-20. While the starters played very little (or in some cases not at all), this was still a great test to see how all of the offseason’s hard work has paid off. The Jaguars opened the ball game with a 15-play, 79-yard drive capped off with a Blake Bortles 2-yard bootleg run for a touchdown. That would be the end of the Jaguars offensive starters and they did not need to show much more.

The opening drive for the Jaguars defense started with a long return by the Saints to the 40-yard line and a penalty by Jalen Ramsey to set the Saints up nicely in Jaguars territory. The Jaguars tightened up on defense allowing just a field goal. Not a bad start for one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, especially without veteran DE Calais Campbell out there.

After an opening couple of drives, the Jaguars backups entered the game. Cody Kessler picked up right where Blake Bortles left them. Kessler finished the game 14-17 for 137 yards and a touchdown. He led the Jaguars to three scoring drives, a great day for the backup quarterback. The Jaguars 2nd and 3rd team defense had a so-so day initially giving up only 1 touchdown from the Saints backups. A couple of bright spots on defense were Michael Bennett, defensive tackle, and rookie linebacker Leon Jacobs. As long as Bennett is healthy, he can easily be one of the better defensive tackles on the squad, so this preseason is important for the veteran. Jacobs performed far and away better than his backups tonight, and that could be the showing the rookie needed to keep his position as the starting SAM linebacker.

And then Tanner Lee came in. Tanner Lee is the Jaguars 6th round rookie out of Nebraska. Not highly touted, however, he was looking to impress after some warranted criticism of his play during training camp. Unfortunately for the rookie, he had a very poor outing completing only four out of eight passes for 37 yards and fumbling the ball to set up a short field and what ended up being a game-winning drive by the Saints 24-20. The Jaguars could not get anything at all going with Lee at QB.

Three plays of the game

  • Blake Bortles’ pass to Dede Westbrook to set up a TD run. Bortles had two back to back great plays, one being a pass under pressure to Westbrook to get them within the 5-yard line. And on the very next play, a naked bootleg TD run to put the Jags ahead 7-0.
  • Back to back sacks in the 3rd quarter by Tyler Patmon and Andrew Motuapuaka.
  • Perhaps overlooked, but Josh Lambo continues to be Mr. Automatic here in Duval. He connected on not one but two 49-yard field goals early in the game, and was perfect on two extra points. He is a blessing the Jaguars desperately needed.

Player of the Game

The player of the game had to be backup Quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler, who was acquired via trade from the Cleveland Browns prior to the draft, completed 14 of 17 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. The backup quarterback put together one of the best-looking performances from a backup quarterback that we have seen in a long time.

Conclusion

The Jaguars first preseason game went about as well as anyone could have liked. Not too many highs, but enough to put the Jaguars fans worries of regression at ease. And not too high to not expect, and still want more, especially from the backups. There will be an interesting position battle between not only the wide receiver position but also a few defensive positions. D.J. Chark, as well as the other Jaguars receivers, showed just why they got most of the night off as they looked excellent catching everything that came their way from starter Blake Bortles and backup quarterback Cody Kessler.

Nickel corner and the linebacker positions will be one to watch for. Another position battle to look for is the Jaguars punt return position. Rashad Greene had a negative play (muffed punt), and Jaydon Mickens had a fair catch.

Next week, the Jaguars take on the Minnesota Vikings on August 18th at 1 PM E.T.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars vs. Saints: Observations From Jaguars 24-20 Loss

Zach Goodall

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Aug 9, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) drops to throw a pass as New Orleans Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson (91) closes in during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Your Jacksonville Jaguars kick their 2018 (pre)season off with a loss at home over the New Orleans Saints by a score of 24-20. However, despite a one in the preseason L column, the Jaguars first and second team had quite the night, specifically on offense.

62,354 tickets were distributed at TIAA Bank Field, which marks a dramatic increase in compared to preseasons’ prior.

Let’s get to the observations.

Roster locks at QB look sharp

It appears one game into the preseason that the Jaguars have their two QBs locked in on the depth chart in Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler. Both quarterbacks performed well in their first game action of 2018.

Bortles completed 6-of-9 passes for 53 yards and a rushing touchdown. His longest pass went to Dede Westbrook for a 16 yard gain to put the team in the redzone, which was a perfectly placed ball across the middle of the field. Bortles ran a boot at the two yard line to give the Jaguars their first score of the night. Bortles and the Jaguars first team offense played 14 snaps.

Kessler had himself quite the game as well, going 14-17 for 139 yards and a throwing touchdown to tight end Scott Orndoff. His best pass of the night came on a 24 yard toss to receiver Shane Wynn down the left side of the field.

Tanner Lee entered the game in the fourth quarter and was immediately sacked twice. He went 4-8 with a fumble and two sacks.

Leon Jacobs looks the part at SAM linebacker

The Jaguars 7th round pick came out firing in his first career action, making a nice run stop with the starters and continuing to apply pressure as a rusher with the second team. Being that the SAM linebacker is on the field dramatically less than the rest of the position on defense, Jacobs received reps with both the first and the second team.

This appears to be Jacobs’ job to lose. He has taken first team reps at SAM during the entirety of Jaguars’ training camp, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.

6th WR battle ain’t over yet

Despite a solid training camp from receiver Rashad Greene, it doesn’t appear that he has the Jaguars’ sixth receiver spot on lock down.

Greene muffed a punt during the game, and his ability as a punt returner is vital in his battle for the position. As a receiver, Greene finished his night with two catches for 13 yards.

Meanwhile, Shane Wynn had a productive night, with three receptions for 39 yards and a rush for five yards. With the ability to return punts and consistently making plays, Wynn is making a case to win the job.

Specialists shine

Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo hasn’t appeared to have lost a step, making two 49 yard field goals and hitting two extra points.

In his NFL debut, rookie punter Logan Cooke kicked two punts, the first being a beautiful 56 yarder with all the hang-time in the world, pinning the Saints at their own 18 yard line. His second was inside the 20 yard line as well, going 33 yards from the Jaguars 48 yard line.

Injuries

-LB Blair Brown left the game, and was evaluated for a concussion

-LG Andrew Norwell was a late scratch with calf tightness

-WR DeAndre Smelter, S Don Carey, DT Eli Ankou, DE Dante Fowler Jr. (PUP), LB Brooks Ellis, OT Will Richardson, OT Jermey Parnell, WR Keelan Cole, DL Taven Bryan, DL Calais Campbell, and DE Dawuane Smoot were all inactive

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