As the Jacksonville Jaguars continue through their organized team activities (OTAs), the team gets a better idea of how some guys are transitioning to new positions, such as second year linebacker Myles Jack. I’m not going to rehash the frustrating and nonsensical rookie season for Jack, but for those who don’t know he has been officially moved to be the starting middle linebacker. The results so far, as expected, have been a bit mixed.
“Yeah, I think he could be better, you know what I’m saying,” Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said on Monday following practice. “I think he works extremely hard, but again, I’m going to go a lot harder with him, obviously someone that’s calling the defense and being there in the middle. I think it helps to have a lot of experienced people around. You see Telvin [Smith] is there and Poz [Paul Posluszny] is there.”
The transition to the MIKE spot was expected to have some growing pains with Jack as he adjusts to not only the position, but also calling the defense. Typically it’s the MIKE’s job to call the defense and line everyone up, but it’s not something Jack has done before so he’s learning on the fly, at least before the games are live. Everyone knows he’s going to make mistakes, but having guys like Smith and Poz around are going to help him adjust and have people he can use as a sounding board if he needs help.
Even though everyone understands it’s a big transition for Jack and mistakes are expected, that doesn’t mean Marrone is going to take it easy on him. Quite the opposite, actually.
“He’s put in the extra work, he’s done a nice job, but I think it’d be hard – I’m always on him so I’m never going to publicly say, ‘Hey, I’m happy with where Myles is,’” Marrone added. “I’m always going to try and push Myles to be where he could be and I think that’s the way I like to coach him and I think he knows that.”
Jacks isn’t necessarily a player who needs a coach to always be on top of him harassing him to work harder and get better, but there’s something there in how it’s played out that Marrone thinks it’s the best course of action.
“I’m not saying that he needs that, I think he’s a very competitive kid, but I’m always looking for him to do better especially in that position which when we’re talking about communication,” Marrone said.
Outside of adjusting how he reads his keys at MIKE linebacker, as mentioned to communication and calls are going to be the biggest issue for Jack. If he misses a call or an alignment, it doesn’t just effect how he does on a play, either. It can have a domino effect on the rest of the defense, especially the front seven. If Jack makes the wrong adjustment on the line, it can disrupt the whole flow of a play in the run fits, etc. and lead to explosive negative plays for the defense.
Naturally, this is only something you can get good at with time, as there is a lot of instinct and pre-snap recognition that comes with it. That takes lots of snaps and film work to really get comfortable with, and even then you’re going to have to make some mistakes to learn from them.