Connect with us

Interview

Jaguars offensive lineman Will Richardson is finally settling into a role

Demetrius Harvey

Published

on

Sep 8, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Will Richardson (76) walks off of the field after the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the offseason and into the season, Jaguars offensive lineman Will Richardson has been moving back and forth between positions. Now at right guard, he is ready to settle in and get to work.

When the offseason began there was much speculation on whether or not Jaguars offensive lineman Will Richardson would even make the team, let alone start. Due to injuries, Richardson was forced to start at left tackle for the Jaguars during the first two games of the season.

With the return of left tackle Cam Robinson and swing-tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, Richardson has yet again switched positions and will be working on solidifying his role as the potential starting right guard of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Last week, Richardson split time at right guard with incumbent starter A.J. Cann. Both players played 27 snaps as Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone continues the competition in order to figure out who will be the permanent starter. While splitting time between offensive linemen is a bit unorthodox — especially during the season –, Richardson embraces the challenge and is thankful to finally be settling in on one role.

“You know it feels good,” Richardson told Locked On Jaguars. “Going into the week, just focusing on one position. [At the] beginning of this season I was working at left tackle and many other different positions so it’s really good mentally just being able to sit back focusing on guard right now.”

Having the ability to jump between positions along the offensive line is impressive, however very difficult. Richardson says the toughest part is having to switch techniques and not settling down on one position is challenging.

Richardson admits he has a lot of learning to do, but it is something he has been working on throughout the season with offensive line coach George Warhop.

When asked if it was easier to switch back to right guard since he has already played the position before Richardson said, “I don’t even think it works like that. I think when you’re switching like I am, and your techniques change so much [and] your feet are in so many different places.”

Richardson has never had a solid three months at one position while with the Jaguars.

Coming out of NC State, Richardson was strictly a right tackle. Since being drafted by the Jaguars, he has played at four out of five positions along the offensive line. Not having continuity can set a player back, especially this early on in his career, but Richardson is embracing his role and is ready for the challenges up ahead. He will settle in and focus on his techniques every week in an attempt to get better.

“Overall, it feels a lot better working at one position, I know what to focus on”

This coming week, if he does start at right guard, Richardson will be going up against one of the better defensive lines in the NFL. Although they have no sacks up to this point in the season, he knows how good of players both Von Miller and Bradley Chubb are. Miller and Chubb combined for 26.5 sacks in 2018.

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

While Chubb and Miller pose a threat primarily to the tackles, the Broncos have switched up alignments, and at times have Chubb playing defensive tackle.

Chubb and Richardson played together for four years at NC State. “I know the motor that the guy (Chubb) got, I know that he has no quit in him,” Richardson said when asked about what kind of player Chubb is. Both players worked to get each other better during their time as members of the Wolfpack.

“Iron sharpens iron,” Richardson said. “Just his work ethic and his love for football is [freaking] amazing to be honest.” The Jaguars — and Richardson — expect nothing less than 100% effort when it comes to both Miller and Chubb.

Richardson says the mindset for the Jaguars offensive line heading into this week when it comes to the pass rushers is to just execute.

While they (Chubb and Miller) are not getting home as often as they have in the past, they still have the capability to do it. As such, it would behoove the Jaguars to not take them lightly.

Richardson’s thought process for himself moving forward is to simply focus and work on his technique.

Having a capable starter at right guard to finally settle in will pay dividends to the Jaguars offensive line moving forward.

“Just focused. Just focused and take it a play at a time.”

Demetrius Harvey is the lead editor for the Locked on Jaguars website covering breaking news, breakdowns, and more. You can follow him at @Demetrius82 on twitter.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Interview

Jaguars’ receiver Dede Westbrook exudes toughness week-in and week-out

Demetrius Harvey

Published

on

Oct 20, 2019; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (12) catches the ball in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Many players have bumps and bruises throughout the season. Jaguars’ receiver Dede Westbrook is no different and has proven over the past several weeks just how tough he is by playing through it. 

Jaguars’ receiver Dede Westbrook has been listed as having a neck/shoulder injury for the past couple of weeks now and has yet to miss a game. The soft-spoken, third-year receiver has still been able to “go crazy” with whatever he is tasked to do.

Although he was unable to finish the contest against the New York Jets last week, Westbrook played the entire game against the Cincinnati Bengals in week seven and had one of his best games as a Jaguars’ receiver since entering the league in 2017.

Entering the week seven matchup as questionable, Westbrook hauled in six receptions for 103 yards and added two rushes for 14 yards against the Bengals.

“I don’t know if it happened actually in practice,” Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone said on the Friday just before the team’s game against the Bengals. “I don’t know if it came after the game and then it’s one of those things that kind of later on you start to feel a little bit. I think it was probably a little bit of that.”

Westbrook has been on the gridiron ever since, playing as if nothing had occurred just a few days prior either in practice or during their week six matchup against the New Orleans Saints. Regardless, Westbrook has been one of the toughest players on the team for the past couple of years — and especially this season. Although he is small in stature, the former Sooner has an innate ability to run through arm tackles with ease and plays up to his competition.

Credit: CBS Sports/NFL

“He’s tough as hell now for a guy of his stature,” Marrone said following the team’s week seven victory over the Bengals. “Five of his six catches yesterday were for first downs, which is big. And then the one thing I do like about Dede is once he gets the ball in his hands, he always has a chance to do something well with it. He had about 40-something yards after the catch, so he’s important. Obviously, everyone knows the type of player he is and what he did for us last year.”

Marrone says Westbrook is one of the most important pieces to the Jaguars offense. Teams cannot rely on shutting just one player down in the Jaguars offense, and a lot of it has to do with what Westbrook provides on the field as a versatile player.

His offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo, has seen just how much grit Westbrook possesses week-in and week-out.

“Incredibly tough, incredibly tough,” DeFilippo said during his Thursday press conference when asked about Westbrook’s toughness. “He plays a lot bigger than his size, and just unbelievably tremendous toughness. Very rarely lets the first guy bring him down ever, I just can’t say enough about Dede [Westbrook].”

Westbrook’s ability to play big at 6’0, 178 lbs., is one of the reasons why he is such a versatile, dynamic playmaker in the Jaguars’ offense.

DeFilippo raved about the third-year receiver’s ability to handle blocks in the run game while also running the gauntlet of routes whenever the team asks him to.

“We ask him to do a lot of things and he handles a lot of things well. We ask him to run option routes, and corners and get in the middle of the field, and there’s a lot of guys in there at times. So, I think he does a great job of doing a lot of the things we ask him to.”

Westbrook is asked to play the team’s ‘F’ position which DeFilippo says is not an easy position to play in the Jaguars’ offense. The ‘F’ receiver is lined up in the slot position on the field, typically played more inside as a bigger tight end or receiver tasked with blocking in the run game, but also must be quick enough to make a play in the passing game when called upon.

“I’m not trying to downplay any other position on our offense in terms of the skill players, but that is probably the toughest position to play on our offense.”

Doing the dirty work is something most receivers wouldn’t be willing to do, but Westbrook does everything the team asks of him, which makes him one of the toughest players on the field.

Jaguars’ receiver DJ Chark Jr. has seen Westbrook playing through injury and knows just how tough the ‘jokester’, as he calls him, is.

“He definitely [doesn’t] mind sticking his neck out there for his teammates,” Chark Jr. told Locked On Jaguars shortly after practice on Wednesday. “Playing, never complaining. That’s the type of teammate that you want.”

Chark Jr. says Westbrook’s physicality helps the mentality of the receiver room, playing though, never complaining, and just sticking their necks out there for their team and teammates. The Jaguars will need that sort of toughness on the field on Sunday against the Houston Texans in London.

Westbrook is not the biggest guy, “Not at all,” Chark says. But, “he’s physical, he’s not stepping out of bounds.”

“He [doesn’t] like to call fair catches, but I tell him he should — a lot. But it’s part of the game, and if you’re gonna play a game like this at the highest level you gotta be able to have that chip on your shoulder. He has it. And I can see him playing this game for a long time.”

While Westbrook has 13 fair catches through eight games this season, he has returned a punt 14 other times and never goes down without a fight.

“Dede’s done a lot of things for this team, playing through injury, playing through pain. He knows that’s what a football player has to do to help his team succeed,” Jaguars’ receiver Chris Conley told Locked On Jaguars shortly after practice on Wednesday.

Conley says he’s proud of the way Westbrook has battled through an injury and hopes the receiver can “get things fixed up and be ready to go” for Sunday’s matchup against the Texans.

“He’s gonna make a play in any way possible, and that he’s gonna keep it alive if he can. He’s not a guy that’s running out of bounds or who’s gonna go down. He’s gonna bounce off [of] people and see if he can make stuff happen.”

According to Pro Football Focus, Westbrook has seven AVT (Avoided tackles after reception) thus far this season which ranks fourth-most in the entire NFL.

“That’s just his mentality”

Continue Reading

Interview

Jaguars’ unorthodox plan working as Will Richardson finds his groove

Demetrius Harvey

Published

on

Sep 15, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (75) and offensive guard A.J. Cann (60) and center Brandon Linder (65) and offensive tackle Will Richardson (76) react during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars deploy one of the most unorthodox transitions along the offensive line in the NFL. They’ll continue to do so until one player exceeds expectations.

When the Jaguars came into the season, there was an impression that fifth-year right guard A.J. Cann — given his contract — was the unquestioned starter along the offensive line. Since the season opener, much has changed. Not only due to Cann’s play — which has not been poor –, but also due to the emergence of a young offensive lineman trying to find his role.

A few weeks ago, Will Richardson told Locked On Jaguars he was excited to finally settle into a role at the right guard position. The second-year player out of NC State was asked to play multiple positions during the preseason and into the season including left tackle, left guard, right tackle, and finally right guard.

Being able to play at one position has been great for Richardson’s development, however, the Jaguars had one catch — he would have to split the repetitions with Cann as a way to get the most production out of the position as possible.

Over the course of the last four games, the Jaguars have used Richardson and Cann at the right guard position by swapping the two players every two drives. There really isn’t any precedent for this type of platooning along the offensive line, at least not during the game, and definitely not for this long into the season.

Marrone has said multiple times over the course of the season he will not simply name a starter. For now, he is perfectly fine with staying the course and allowing the production out of the position to speak for itself.

Now, four weeks into settling his role at right guard, Richardson says he’s grown immensely. “It’s been a huge difference just from the first game, to this last game — just in footwork, where my eyes should be, where my eyes shouldn’t be,” Richardson told Locked On Jaguars shortly after practice on Wednesday. “I’ve been picking up a lot of these things and they’re starting to become second nature”

Richardson has worked on his hand placement among other more technical skills to grow accustomed to his role.

One might assume the Jaguars are stunting his growth or consistency by continuously swapping him out, but Richardson says that’s simply not the case. “Gotta stay warm,” Richardson quipped. “I feel like that’s the biggest thing. We’re switching every two drives — we might come out at halftime with us having the ball AJ [Cann] starts his two drives, and I might not touch the field from the second quarter to the fourth quarter, so it’s just being able to stay warm.”

Having to stay warm is extremely important, especially for an offensive lineman. If you are constantly going in and out during a game your muscles can tighten up, and you won’t be as physically prepared. Instead of sitting down during defensive possessions, Richardson stands up, makes sure he gets a few squats and leg pumps in and gets ready to play on the following possession.

“I’ll take a few little sits on the sideline, but usually at the end that offensive drive when [the] defense is out, that’s when I kind of prepare, just to make sure I’m still loose.”

Another area of concern when being platooned with Cann is paying attention to what’s going on in the game, Richardson says. When you aren’t playing a lot, you typically aren’t able to see the things you wouldn’t see in practice. That includes tendencies and knowing what changes to make on a drive-to-drive basis.

One solution to that problem has been exchanging notes with Cann on the sideline during defensive possessions. “Every time A.J. [Cann] comes off the field — he just finishes his drive — and I’ll go up to him and ask him what’s he’s getting, what type of moves is he getting in the pass[ing] game, what type of stunts is he getting on third-down,” Richardson said. “In the run game ‘are they playing hard in the double teams?’ And this is every time.”

Richardson says the same goes for Cann when Richardson is done with a possession. The two will typically grab their iPads and get to work on keying in on specific pressures, looks, and plays the opposing team is giving them so the two can get a better understanding of how they’re playing.

Over the next several weeks Richardson will look to remain consistent and says it starts with technique. The team has done a fantastic job of running to the left side of the offensive line as opposed to the right side. A fair question to ask is: Is platooning two players at right guard affecting the overall play?

During the last four weeks of the season, the two guards have allowed 0 sacks and eight pressures (each with four) combined according to Pro Football Focus. The transition is absolutely working, and the team might want to consider using it throughout the season until it becomes clear and obvious who the better player is.

Richardson says playing along the offensive line and remaining consistent is more about technique than anything else. “Just going back to technical, so when I’m taking a pull making sure that I don’t have my eyes on the linebacker and I have my eyes on the gap and trusting it,” Richardson said. “As far as like pass protection it’s just making sure my feet are solid. When I throw my punch making sure I have tight hands so little things like that.”

When it comes down to the run game, the second-year player out of NC State says it is all about “Will, want-to, and footwork and just beating the guy in front of you.”

Richardson will have another opportunity to get better going up against one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL in Geno Atkins on Sunday when the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4) take on the Cincinnati Bengals (0-6) on Sunday.

Continue Reading

Interview

Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue knows the defense has room to grow

Demetrius Harvey

Published

on

Oct 6, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) reacts after a tackle against the Carolina Panthers in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars have been known as a defensive powerhouse for the past several years, however recently the tides have turned. One constant that’s remained is defensive end Yannick Ngakoue who is still turning the corner. 

When the Jaguars’ offseason began, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue staged a holdout in hopes of becoming one of the highest-paid defensive ends in the NFL. His hold out only lasted a week or so, but it was a stance he was willing to take entering the final year of his contract.

Ngakoue easily could have held out — thus hurting the team defensively — for the betterment of himself, but he decided to come back anyway. His coaches have admired his dedication to his craft for years, and it shows by the production he has put on the field since he was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

“As soon as the game was over, I texted him right away. Because he comes to work every day. He’s passionate about what he does. He’s very good at what he does, so it’s good to see him have some individual success last Sunday with two sacks,” Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said on Thursday when asked about Ngakoue’s recent success. “But knowing Yannick [Ngakoue], the first thing he texts back is, ‘I feel like hell because we lost.’ And that’s the type of person that Yannick is. He’s more team than [an] individual, and that’s why we love him.”

The Jaguars defense struggled in their 27-34 loss against the Caroline Panthers, and Ngakoue feels rather than this week being about staying in their gaps as a defensive line, it is moreso just working on technique.

Now, entering week six Ngakoue registered his first sacks of the season last Sunday after getting to Panthers’ quarterback Kyle Allen twice over the course of the game. Early-season struggles due to a nagging hamstring injury have limited some of Ngakoue’s production during his contract season. However, the young defensive end isn’t worried about himself, he’s worried about the team.

In some contract-dispute situations players can have the tendency to press or feel down because they aren’t producing well enough to earn a contract they may feel is acceptable to them. Ngakoue has always held himself to a different standard, putting God and the team first before anything.

“All glory to God, God put me in position and I executed,” Ngakoue told Locked On Jaguars on Thursday when asked how it felt to finally get a sack this season. “So like I say all glory to God, all glory to heaven. Also, major respect to my teammates because they did their job in those specific plays to help me get back there.”

Unpromoted, and unsolicited, Ngakoue credits his teammates with every success he has individually instead of implying he wanted more or had to step his own game up for himself. There is zero selfishness within him.

Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In week six, the Jaguars need to get back to being who they are, but at this point, the 2017 team has to be forgotten, and Ngakoue agrees. “We did a lot of great things in 2017,” Ngakoue told Locked On Jaguars on Thursday. “But we can’t keep looking back at that because ultimately everybody always mentions it because that was the standard that we set, and we’re just trying to pass that standard.”

The Jaguars defense has taken a backseat to their offense this season. In years past, the Jaguars offense would essentially have been carried through the season because of the performance on defense. Now the tables have turned, however, Ngakoue still has a strong belief in this team and its defense.

“It’s still a long season you know we still got — its the second quarter of the season, there’s still a lot we can do. ”

Earlier this week, Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell spoke about the offense. He said, for the first time since he has been with the team, the offense can be relied upon to score points, and the confidence on that side of the ball has skyrocketed.

Ngakoue agrees and mentions quarterback Garnder Minshew, wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., and running back Leonard Fournette as the key pieces which form the offense and its success thus far this season.

“Absolutely, we got an offense that compliments each other,” Ngakoue said when asked about the success of the offense and how different it is from years past. “We used to be a defensive-minded team —  in the outside world, we were known for defense. But at the end of the day, we got a great offense too.”

The Jaguars currently rank sixth in total offense according to NFL.com. Much of that is due to the play of Minshew who has thrown for 1,279 yards, nine touchdowns, and one interception thus far this season.

If the Jaguars continue their success on offense and build a defense even closely resembling that of 2017, the team will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. Their next task will be stopping the unstoppable in New Orleans Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara and receiver Michael Thomas.

Continue Reading

Trending