The Jacksonville Jaguars will have a new starting middle linebacker in second year player Myles Jack. Jack was originally drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the idea of being the middle linebacker of the future, but after being shifted the strong side linebacker and then playing some weakside and then back to middle, it was a frustrating rookie season that had Jack not playing nearly as much as he probably should have, especially towards the end of the season.
Entering the 2017 season, the new coaching staff decided to just rip to band-aid off, move Paul Posluszny to strong side linebacker and stick Jack in the middle. Understanding there would be issues during Jack’s transition, it seems that he has come along during organized team activities faster than expected.
“Myles has done a really nice job,” Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said on Friday. “There were some learning curves early on and you can see now that he is understanding what we’re asking of him. He has become a leader in the huddle and we’re excited with the positon change with Myles.”
The biggest transition for Jack to the middle isn’t really anything physical, as Jack is a superb athlete, but it’s the mental aspect. That’s not just his ability to read and react to plays either, it’s his ability to make pre-snap reads and communicate to the rest of the defense during and between plays on adjustments that need to be made. Poz’s communication ability was arguably his biggest asset, and while it will still be there in some capacity, Jack will need to take that role over.
“I think from OTA 1 to OTA 10, he’s made great strides from a communications standpoint,” Jaguars new linebacker coach Mark Collins told Mike Kaye of First Coast News when asked about Jack’s progression.
“In recognition, pre and post-snap communication, but he’s still got a long way to go,” Collins continued. “He needs a lot of work but he’s a willing participant, he wants to do well, but he’s still a young guy that needs a lot of work. He’ll learn from the burn a little bit.”
As Collins noted, Jack still has a long way to go with some of that communication, but that’s not unexpected. A lot of what Jack is learning can only be learned while playing. You can watch film all you want, but that can only teach you so much. There are going to be mistakes that Jack makes early in the season, but it sounds like he’s quickly picking up what he needs to.