In the offseason the Jacksonville Jaguars made some big moves in free agency, signing linebacker Paul Posluszny to a 6-year $42 million ($15M guaranteed) contract and linebacker Clint Session to a 5-year $29 million ($11.5M guaranteed) contract. Those two moves solidified the Jaguars linebacking corps, adding to the already talented Daryl Smith, who signed a 6-year $25 million contract in 2007. It's a lot of money in a linebacking corps, but it's arguably one of the best 4-3 linebacking corps in the NFL.
There's only one issue so far however, the Jaguars take their linebackers off the field in nickel and dime packages.
Look at the number of plays each player on the defense played on Sunday, I thought it was a mistake. Mark Long of the AP tweeted it today though confirmed it: Clint Session played only 6 downs against the Tennessee Titans.
Six downs for the guy you just gave a pretty hefty contract to?
By comparison, Posluszny played a total of 53 snaps (34 in coverage) and Daryl Smith played 33 snaps (24 in coverage). I noticed during the game that Smith would come off the field often on passing downs while Posluszny would stay in, which totally blew my mind. He's still the best cover linebacker on the team. I don't agree with all the hand wringing about Posluszny in coverage, he's solid unless he's asked to drop deep, but Smith is still the best guy for coverage.
I assumed with the money the team has invested in the linebacking group that they would keep three linebackers on the field even on nickel downs, as they did much of the preseason, but that clearly wasn't the case on Sunday. While they shut down the Titans rushing attack, the Titans didn't even really try to run the ball. Chris Johnson had just 9 carries and the team seemed to panic as soon as the Jaguars went ahead 7-0 and passed the ball an inordinate amount.
It remains to be seen if this will be the case as the season moves forward, but as I mentioned... you can't have the guy you just gave a $30 million deal to play only 6 downs when he's healthy.