Through the first two games of the 2016 NFL season, one of the most asked questions for Jacksonville Jaguars fans has been "How much will Myles Jack play?" and the answer so far has been "not much". That changed some in Sunday's 38-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers, as Myles Jack got playing time in place of Paul Posluszny late in the game at middle linebacker and he didn't really stand out, good or bad.
According to Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley however, we shouldn't expect to see more of Myles Jack anytime soon.
"Poz is playing very well for us. I don't know how many exact tackles he had. I know he had double-digit tackles. The trust that the players have in him, Poz was a Pro-Bowl player here," Bradley told reporters on Monday when asked about Myles Jack. "He plays at an extremely high level. He continues to grow. He continues to learn."
The simple fact of the matter is, as long as the Jaguars coaching staff believes Poz is playing at that type of level, which he is not, Jack won't see the field. The Pro-Bowl Paul Posluszny hasn't really existed since early last season, possibly prior to that. He's now a few years older and slower, and even in the run game which was his "thing", he's starting to get blocked and washed out of plays and his legs generally look dead. He's essentially a goal line linebacker at this point, but the coaching staff trusts him to get everyone lined up on defense and that he's going to do what he's supposed to do within the defense.
"There are things we're asking of him. What we're challenging him to be able to step on the field at critical times - he has to be fully aware of all the situations and his responsibilities. He's getting better in that area," Bradley continued on Jack. "The improvement that we have seen over the past couple of weeks is exactly what we're looking for. We just have to keep challenging him because he adds attributes that are great for this team. He has to be out there when he earns the trust of everyone. That's what he's doing right now. He's putting a lot of time and work into it. Every rep that he gets is invaluable to him."
While Bradley's comments don't explicitly say it, in my opinion the above comments are intimating that Jack is struggling to grasp the defensive scheme, which isn't a surprise given the Jaguars are asking him to learn both weak side linebacker and middle linebacker, all at once. However, the team maintains that he's going to be the middle linebacker, which makes cross training him to the extent they are, counter productive.
Minutes after taking Myles Jack, Caldwell says he can play any LB spot. When asked today, Gus makes it sound like its MLB or nada.— Hays Carlyon (@HaysCarlyon) September 19, 2016
If the Jaguars intent is to play Jack at middle linebacker and middle linebacker only, which is fine, then they should stop overloading him with learning two positions. Realistically, by not letting Jack master a handful of defensive packages and utilizing his ability on the field, they're shooting themselves in the foot by letting a player rot on the bench when there are clear issues on the field with the player in front of him. Hell, we saw Hayes Pullard in the game on Sunday before Myles Jack. What gives?
The simple fact of the matter is, as I mentioned earlier, until the Jaguars recognize that the play of Paul Posluszny is deteriorating not much is going to change until it's forced to change with losses piling up or an injury. It's not really Posluszny's fault, as he's just doing what his coaches tell him to do, which is another reason he plays every down, but until something changes the Jaguars coaching staff will continue to handicap themselves defensively.
And who knows, maybe Jack really is struggling to grasp the defensive scheme at the middle linebacker spot and that's what is keeping him on the bench... But again, if that's the case you limit what you're throwing at him so you have situations he can actually get on the field. If he busts a coverage or doesn't line up in the right run gap a few times, what really changes from what we've seen the past three years from the Jaguars defense?
The Jaguars are treating Jack like he's a rookie quarterback they're afraid to break and it doesn't really make much sense.