As we finish up our series on positional battles here on Locked On Jaguars, it’s time to take a look at the big men down front on the Jacksonville defense. One that in the past few years has been very stingy in terms of yardage allowed and overall production. They have relied heavily on them to win games due to the poor offensive play. A huge part of that success is due to the defensive line.
In previous seasons, the Jaguars defensive line has been the strongest position group in terms of depth and pure talent on the team. A group that has consistently been atop the league as one of the best pass-rushing units. In the draft, the Jaguars added arguably the best pass rusher in the nation coming out of college in Josh Allen to complement the other lineman on the field. Allen looks to take on a big role for the defense and help them to elevate the unit as a whole in 2019.
Projected Depth Chart:
DE: Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, Josh Allen, Dawaune Smoot, Lerentee McCray, Lyndon Johnson
DT: Marcel Dareus, Taven Bryan, Abry Jones, Eli Anoku, Dontavius Russell
With ongoing contract disputes, Yannick Ngakoue has not reported to training camp and is a concern going into the season. Ngakoue is one of the most explosive defensive players in the NFL with a knack for getting to the football. Ngakoue looks to holdout until the Jaguars make an offer that he feels is suitable in comparison to his play and production on the field.
If Ngakoue continues to stay away from the facility, the Jaguars are at a huge disadvantage. Him not being there will have an impact for the rookies on defense as they will lack a leader to follow and it could cause them to stunt in growth without the dynamic presence of Ngakoue on the field to mentor them and create a smooth transition to the NFL. A guy that secured 25 tackles and 9.5 sacks last season could be a huge help in fine-tuning rookie Josh Allen for his first season in the NFL.
In his fourth year out of Maryland, Ngakoue has exceeded all expectations given to him when he was drafted in the third round. He quickly became one of the most dynamic players on the end of the line has a chance to earn a huge payday soon before the preseason kicks off August 8th in Baltimore.
With the amount of production Ngakoue has shown in terms of pass rush in his three years in the league, Jacksonville is attempting to work out a deal that will work for both sides.
On the other end of the line, there’s one of the biggest powerhouses on the Jacksonville defense. Calais Campbell came over from Arizona before the 2017 season and finished his first career game with the team with 4 sacks against the Houston Texans. Campbell is a leader on the defensive line and his veteran experience has allowed for more discipline upfront.
Coming off a season where Campbell leads the Jaguars in sacks with 10.5, Campbell looks to continue that dominance and help lead a Jacksonville team that has the potential to produce wins on the defensive side. Campbell has started every game since arriving in Jacksonville and looks to continue starting in some capacity along the defensive line once again this season.
With the effectiveness Campbell has shown in recent years, the Jaguars have truly bought in on the idea that he is the most important piece of the defensive puzzle — at least for the time being. Seeing how he handles himself and his body as he continues to age will be huge if the Jaguars look to stay successful upfront.
The starters — as of right now — on the interior include Taven Bryan and Marcel Dareus. Two large forces that are monsters against the run game, and can create inside push for edge rushers to get to the quarterback on pass plays.
Bryan is in his second year out of Florida and looks to take on the role he was drafted for in the post-Malik Jackson era. Bryan — or the Wyoming Wildman — is attempting to make the full transition he struggled to make last season. If he can live up to the expectations he was given when he was drafted in the first round just a year ago.
On the other hand, Dareus is undoubtedly one of the best interior run stoppers in the league today and has the experience to mentor backups such as Jaguars draftee Dontavious Russell out of Auburn or Eli Ankou. Dareus has matured since arriving in Jacksonville from Buffalo and has played well for the Jaguars in that time. Accumulating 32 total tackles, a sack, and one forced fumble in 15 games. While the number is not eye-popping by any means, his stature upfront causes a problem for opposing teams to run game. Especially in short yard situations.
Next, is quite possibly one of the most important backups on the team in Josh Allen. Allen, — arguably the best pass rusher coming out of college this season — was a steal for Jacksonville at 7th overall. Allen combines is a mixture of size and speed to be able to get after the quarterback and drop back into coverage when necessary.
The biggest plus is his ability to play in coverage as a linebacker. The versatility he brings to the table could be huge due to the lack of linebacker depth Jacksonville has this year without Telvin Smith. Having guys that can drop back into coverage on tight ends will be a tremendous advantage for Jacksonville. Although Allen is unlikely to take many snaps at the linebacker position, he illustrates great versatility and athleticism which is key to providing the most impact along the defensive line.
Backup defensive ends
The backups at defensive end round out with Dawuane Smoot, who continues to develop in the backup role at defensive end and has shown the coaching staff he can get it done when on the field, Lerentee McCray who brings a powerful punch to the special teams unit and has even seen time as a linebacker in previous years for the Jaguars. As well as, Lyndon Johnson who was brought back in after Zedrick Woods abruptly retired from football before even seeing the field in the NFL.
Backup Defensive Lineman
Abry Jones looks to continue being utilized as a rotational lineman in certain situations, and will likely play many snaps this season at defensive tackle for the Jaguars. As for Eli Anoku and Dontavious Russell, they will each fight for playing time and could even see the field if an injury arises on that defensive line.
There are many talented players on the Jaguars defensive line that can hold it together. The biggest question right now is whether or not Ngakoue will return with a renewed contract. That looming idea that he may not be paid could start to cause problems and lead to the dividing of the locker room on the situation if the Jaguars front office isn’t careful. Paying Yannick seems to be the viable option right now. But, how much is enough in Ngakoue’s eyes?
It’s imperative that he gets what he deserves for the ship to run smoothly on the defensive line in 2019.
Josh Allen shines in Jaguars 22-7 loss to Miami Dolphins
Josh Allen showed out on the national stage and proved why he deserved to be the seventh-overall pick this year.
Tonight was the night of firsts for the Jaguars. It was the first time the first-team offense and defense took the field for the Jaguars this year. The first time anyone has gotten a good look at Nick Foles in a Jaguars uniform, and the first time we got an extensive look at the Jaguars rookie seventh-overall pick defensive end Josh Allen.
Allen was able to take advantage of a very poor Dolphins offensive line and downright dominant in the first half of the game. For the night, Allen was credited with four combined tackles as the Jaguars tried to get him on the field as much as possible. Despite saying otherwise earlier this season, the Jaguars actually opened up in a 3-4 look with Yannick Ngakoue and Allen on opposite sides. With defensive assistant Dom Capers in the fold, the Jaguars may be a bit more creative on defense this year.
Getting into the Dolphins’ backfield practically all night, Allen put on a show. With several tackles for loss, a couple of quarterback hits, and great pass coverage, Allen showed just why he was taken in the top-10. The Jaguars used Allen in every way possible tonight, and there is no reason to believe that will stop during the regular season.
Allen will be a pleasure to watch in 2019 especially with Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and Marcell Dareus playing with him.
Allen wasn’t the only player being showcased tonight for the Jaguars. This was the first time tonight the Jaguars — and the nation — got a good look at quarterback Foles since he left Philadelphia.
Foles held his own against the Dolphins after going 6/10 for 48 yards, with one touchdown, and an interception. Foles had a couple of rough drives and began the game leading the offense to a quick three-and-out, but overall looked just fine against the Dolphins first-team defense.
After a summer of Foles to Chris Conley connections being made, it was Foles and receiver Dede Westbrook who seemed to be the most in sync. Westbrook hauled in the 10-yard touchdown throw from Foles along with 3 other receptions for a total of 29 yards on the night.
The Jaguars would go onto fall to the Dolphins 22-7 after a poor showing by the Jaguars second and third-team offense, but the talk of the night will ultimately be the great performance by defensive end Josh Allen.
1. The Jaguars offensive line will be fine — if healthy
Left tackle Cam Robinson made his debut tonight after recovering from a 2018 torn ACL. Although Robinson did not play very long, he had a great night against the Dolphins’ poor defensive line.
The Jaguars remaining starters included: Andrew Norwell, Brandon Linder, Will Richardson, and Jawaan Taylor. Taylor got his first action tonight as a Jaguar after recovering from a knee injury. Richardson is seemingly entrenched in the starting right guard role with A.J. Cann playing a majority of the night with the backups after Richardson was finished.
2. Leonard Fournette is a threat out of the backfield
This should be obvious, however, the Jaguars fourth-overall pick showed tonight he can be a threat in the passing game. With two receptions for 15 yards, Fournette showed well catching passes from Foles as he has all summer. On the night Fournette added seven rushes for 27 yards. Fournette showed power and speed once he got into the open field.
3. The Jaguars potential sixth receiver spot is still wide open
Quite frankly, the Jaguars are still searching for their sixth receiver. During the first two preseason games, receiver Tre McBride seemingly was the frontrunner for the job along with Terrelle Pryor.
However, Pryor left the game with yet another hamstring injury and McBride had a couple of drops along with 33 receiving yards on three receptions. Receiver C.J. Board was the most productive receiver on the team tonight with four receptions for 56 yards and a drop. This will be a competition to keep an eye on through next week.
4. Taven Bryan is still struggling
The Jaguars have an issue with defensive tackle Taven Bryan. Thus far this preseason, Bryan has not played as expected from a former first-round pick. Tonight showed no different as Bryan accounted for one tackle and two roughing the passer penalties on the night.
Bryan will make the team, but the Jaguars will have an issue if he ever has to play significant snaps in place of starting defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Bryan will need to quickly develop if he wants to contribute positively to this team this season.
5. Dawuane Smoot is a lot better than he used to be
A former third-round pick, Smoot excelled tonight against the Dolphins porous defensive line. Notching one sack, Smoot was able to take control of the line of scrimmage tonight and prove why he should be on this team. The Jaguars have a great competition and will ultimately be forced to make a tough decision as defensive lineman Datone Jones is performing just as well.
It is possible the Jaguars will opt to keep both — and they should.
Jaguars preseason week three inactives, Richardson to start
The Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins are set to kick off at 8:00 p.m. eastern time at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
For the Jaguars, they will finally get a good look at their starting offensive and defensive units — minus a couple of injuries. The only players not slated to get some reps tonight are: Marqise Lee (knee), Alfred Blue (ankle), Jake Ryan (knee), Quincy Williams (knee), Davis Tull (leg), Charles Jones (foot), Geoff Swaim (foot), Josh Oliver (hamstring), and Marcell Dareus (elbow).
All eyes will be on new Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles tonight as he gets set to play his first game since leaving the Philidelphia Eagles in free agency.
Before the list of players not participating was released, the Jaguars’ Director of Public Relations announced via twitter, left tackle Cam Robinson will be making his first appearance tonight, although on a limited basis. Robinson will be on a “strict” snap count for tonight’s game.
Tonight, Cam Robinson (@crobinson_68) will start at left tackle, making his first appearance since sustaining a knee injury on Sept. 16, 2018.
He’ll be on a strict “snap count,” so you may see him come out mid-series. Part of the plan.
Excited to see the big fella out there!
— Tad Dickman (@TDickman89) August 22, 2019
Expect the Jaguars starters to play only a couple of series tonight as the Jaguars look to continue keeping them safe for the regular season.
Jaguars right guard Will Richardson will be starting tonight ahead of A.J. Cann. Richardson has been in a constant battle with the veteran since camp began.
Second-round pick Jawaan Taylor will be starting at right tackle. It is the rookie’s first in-game action for the Jaguars this preseason.
Preseason Week 3: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins preview
This week against the Miami Dolphins, the Jacksonville Jaguars will finally get a really good look at their $88M prized possession, Nick Foles. Foles, along with the starting offensive line, Leonard Fournette, and the majority of the teams’ starting players will get the ball rolling early against the Dolphins. How long they will play for likely depends on the success of the team, however, they won’t be playing for very long.
The game will be televised nationally on FOX, so everyone will finally get a good look at the $88M man. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling the game.
The only players not set to play for the Jaguars on Thursday are: Marqise Lee (knee), Alfred Blue (ankle), Jake Ryan (knee), Quincy Williams (knee), Davis Tull (leg), Charles Jones (foot), Geoff Swaim (foot), Josh Oliver (hamstring), and Marcell Dareus (elbow).
Lee was recently activated from the teams’ PUP list and should be ready to go for the regular season.
Game Time info
- When: Thursday, August 22nd, 8:00 PM ET
- Where: Hard Rock Stadium Miami Gardens
- Watch: FOX (FOX30 Jacksonville)
- Listen: Jacksonville 1010XL AM, 92.5FM
Five Keys to Success
- Stay Healthy. Once again this is the number one key to success. Even if the Jaguars completely bomb their dress-rehearsal game, as long as they come out of the game fully healthy there is no harm, no foul. Left tackle Cam Robinson will be seeing his first in-game action since tearing his ACL in week two of the 2018 regular season. Keeping him fresh is going to be pivotal for the Jaguars offense this season.
- Establish chemistry on the offensive line. The Jaguars will finally get their starting offensive line together on the field at the same time in a game. This is a great opportunity for the team to establish chemistry between each other along with Foles.
- Win the trench war. This goes for the offensive and defensive line. The Jaguars must get push on both sides of the football this week to establish the run and get after the quarterback. This will be the first in-game action which will showcase the Jaguars renewed “lightning package”. This includes Josh Allen, Calais Campbell, Taven Bryan, and Yannick Ngakoue. While the team will be without defensive tackle Marcell Dareus for this matchup, it will be a great way to take a look at their renewed pass rush.
- Showcase Nick Foles. While the Jaguars do not have to pass the football every down, and they certainly will not do so, getting the most out of Foles’ action tonight will be pivotal to the teams’ success moving forward. Being able to establish in-game camaraderie never hurts, and this is a prime opportunity to do it.
- Enjoy it. Jaguars fans will finally get their opportunity to see the first-team offense and defense. This game will ultimately set the tone for the regular season.
Jaguars receivers vs. Dolphins defensive backs
The Miami Dolphins have two premier defensive backs in their secondary in Xavien Howard and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Playing against either one will be a great test for the Jaguars receivers. This will be the first in-game action for UFA signee Chris Conley. Seeing him, Dede Westbrook and D.J. Chark compete against the Dolphins secondary will be an exciting matchup to watch. It will allow the Jaguars to get a great look at what they truly have at the position.
Jaguars offensive line vs. Dolphins defensive line
The Jaguars have not yet established what their offensive line will look like moving forward into the regular season. This will be a great test for them moving forward against the Dolphins’ defensive line which includes former first-round pick, Charles Harris.
Will Richardson vs. A.J. Cann
Although this is not a matchup between two opposing players, it will be a competition to watch during Thursday’s game. Offensive tackle/guard Will Richardson and A.J. Cann have been battling for the teams’ starting right guard position throughout training camp.
Five Players to watch
1. Nick Foles
Foles will be the focus for Thursday’s game against the Dolphins. Nationally. It will be the first in-game action anyone has seen Foles play since his playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints in February as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. For Jaguars fans they will finally get to see what kind of player the $88M man is. Foles will likely be playing only a couple of series depending on how the game goes, but he is absolutely the number one player to watch.
Nick Foles spoke to the Jaguars media shortly after practice on Sunday and was asked just how important getting the offensive line together was, he stated, “Really the most important piece of the offense is the offensive line. The way they work together, the way they communicate, the way we recognize fronts, our run game, our pass protection. The way that those guys communicate is a work of art, so to have them all out there working, developing, communicating is huge for us right now. So, it’s happening at the right time, so we have to really take advantage of every single day.”
If the Jaguars can establish their offensive line, it will lead to great success for Foles and the rest of the Jaguars offense.
2. Cam Robinson
Robinson has not played a down for the Jaguars since week-two of the 2018 regular season, and before last week there were questions regarding his availability for the start of the season. Instead, Robinson will play on Thursday night. The question remains, however, how much will the left tackle play?
Keep a close eye on Robinson and how he handles pass-rush snaps. His health is of the utmost importance to the Jaguars offensive line, which ultimately determines the success of the offense as a whole.
3. Leonard Fournette
Fournette has had a sort of revitalization of his career arc throughout this offseason. Not only has he shown up to nearly every offseason activity, but he has also shown up healthy and in shape. Keeping Fournette healthy will be majorly important for the Jaguars offense this season. Seeing him get some in-game action will be interesting.
4. Terrelle Pryor
After earning praise during the early portions of training camp, the fire lit by Pryor has become rather dim. Dealing with injuries for the past couple of weeks the former quarterback-turned-wideout has not had an opportunity to showcase his talents in games. This will be a great opportunity for Pryor to earn his spot on the 53-man roster which has seemingly been handed to him due to his size (6’4″ 228 pounds) and speed (4.30 40-yard dash).
The Jaguars will very likely be retaining six receivers at the final cutdowns, and Pryor is squarely in the mix.
5. Jawaan Taylor
Heading into week three of the preseason, it is unclear if Jaguars rookie offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor will receive the first-team snaps at right tackle. Coming off of a knee injury in which head coach Doug Marrone described as “not serious at all”, Taylor will be one of the key players to watch.
If he is able to establish himself as the starting right tackle opposite of Robinson, it will pay dividends to the Jaguars protection and run game moving forward. The Jaguars can ill-afford to head into the season with either Cedric Ogbuehi or Leonard Wester starting.
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