There has been a lot of talk about the Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker positions, not just because one of them was of them was recently in the news, but more so because the team drafted Myles Jack in the second round of the NFL Draft. The Jaguars play a hybrid 4-3 defensive front which has some of the same linebacker principals, but the traditional strongside linebacker in the Jaguars scheme is a little bit different and instead of being referred to as an "SLB", it's called an "OTTO".
And that has made people really confused as to what it is.
What is a strongside linebacker?
Before we look at what the OTTO is, we should look at what an SLB is in a 4-3 front, because the OTTO is a spin off of that position. The SLB is often referred to as the "SAM" in football jargon lines up on the strongside of the offensive line. The strongside of the offensive line is typically the side the tight end lines up, because it's stronger since it has an additional blocker/body on the line. It's really that simple. Typically the SAM backer will be responsible for tackling the runningback, shedding and withstanding blocks against tight ends, fullbacks and sometimes offensive lineman. Their responsibility in coverage is typically the flats (line of scrimmage area) and short zones under 10 yards. At times, they'll also be called to bring pressure on the quarterback.
What is the OTTO linebacker?
The OTTO linebacker is an extension of the SAM linebacker role, but the Jaguars like to place that player on the line of scrimmage with the defensive line, standing up. The OTTO is not going to be limited to the strongside, however, as when it was introduced Gus Bradley said the OTTO will line up on both the strongside and the weakside. The OTTO will also have some "LEO" qualities in rushing the passer in certain situations. It's more similar to an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme than a traditional 4-3 SAM linebacker. That's why you're seeing guys who are kind of DE/LB tweeners like Dan Skuta, Tyrone Holmes and Ryan Davis playing that position. They need to be able to hold the point of attack and beat offensive lineman in the pass rush when necessary.
Can Myles Jack play the OTTO linebacker?
Should Myles Jack play the OTTO linebacker?
No, not really.
I'm sure there will be situations with three linebackers on the field and one of them will be Jack, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's playing the OTTO position. Look at it like when the Jaguars lined up with Ryan Davis and Sen'Derrick Marks at defensive tackle. Davis was lined up where the nosetackle usually is, but he wasn't playing the role of nosetackle. It would likely be the more traditional 4-3 SAM linebacker duty than the OTTO duty.
Jack's best asset is his coverage ability, not just in the flats and short areas, but down the field. He can run with some wide receivers and most, if not all, tight ends. That is where you want to use him on the field, not squatting outlet passes and dump offs to the backs.
I'm sure Jack is a fine blitzer and I think he can hold up against the run fine, but the OTTO is not where you want to be playing a player with Jack's talent. You want him as your three-down middle linebacker and eventually that's what he's going to be, barring injury.
The OTTO is stupid, don't worry about it
I don't know about you, but I'm over the whole "LEO", "OTTO" and "LOTTO" nonsense. They're just buzzwords that over complicate things. The Jaguars want one of their linebackers to be more of a hybrid 3-4 outside linebacker than a traditional linebacker. It's going to be on the field probably about 40 percent, if not less, of the time because that is the linebacker that is going to come off on coverage downs. They will be used sometimes as stand up pass rushers in situations where they team is selling out to get to the quarterback and so on.