The Jacksonville Jaguars decided to move second year linebacker Myles Jack to the middle linebacker position, which was the plan for his future all along. The team decided to just give him the starting role however, likely to just rip the band-aid off and let him get through the growing pains. One of the big reason Jack was given this role and why there are such high expectations for him, is because he should represent a huge upgrade in the pass coverage department.
If you don’t believe me, believe his former UCLA defensive coordinator, current Atlanta Falcons linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich. Ryan O’Halloran of The Florida Times-Union caught up with Ulbrich and spoke with him about Jack’s potential at linebacker.
“To me, he could be the best cover linebacker in many ways and especially on tight ends. It became a thing at UCLA – he wasn’t even allowed to take a tight end or running back in practice – he would take the receiver and typically, they couldn’t catch a ball on him,” Ulbrich told O’Halloran.
Jack was often asked to cover receivers in the slot for UCLA when he was playing linebacker, because clearly the team didn’t think it was a mismatch. It is a bit eye opening that the team felt he was so good in coverage however, that it appeared to be a waste of time in practice to have him cover backs and tight ends.
“His true ability is in coverage – playing off the ball and letting him use his lateral range to run and hit,” Ulbrich continued. “When you put him up at the line of scrimmage, you can limit what he can do.”
Last season Jack was limited, playing the OTTO linebacker position... Well, I guess you could call it “playing”. It was a position that was typically on the line of scrimmage and didn’t have much, in terms of coverage responsibility. Now that Jack is at middle linebacker however, the Jaguars hope that his coverage ability can help shut down the middle of the field, which has been an area teams have exploited on the Jaguars for years. If Jack can limit the middle passing lanes, in combination with the expected play from Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye on the outside, an already good Jaguars pass coverage unit could be that much better in 2017.