Heading into the 2018 season, there’s a lot of excitement about the Jacksonville Jaguars defense, in particular their defensive line. The Jaguars seemingly have finally found that edge rusher they’ve been struggling to find since Tony Brackens in the form of Yannick Ngakoue. Ngakoue broke out his rookie year, wrestling away the starting right end job and ending the season with eight sacks. In 2018, he stepped up further, racking up 12 sacks, being a constant threat in the backfield and making it to the Pro Bowl.
“I think it is the mental makeup of Yannick first of all. He feels he is not getting the credit he deserves, and he deserves a lot of credit for what he has made himself to be in this league,” Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said last week after OTAs when asked about how to keep Ngakoue motivated. “A lot of people said he couldn’t do what he is doing, and he is doing it. With him, I think it is just to strive to be the best player possible. That is his mental makeup.”
With that being the make up of Ngakoue mentally, the constant underdog not given credit, Wash knows how to use that as motivation to keep Yannick going and he uses it.
“Oh, yes. Yannick and I have a really good relationship,” Wash said when asked if he uses the chip on Ngakoue’s shoulder as motivation. “I knew him before we drafted him. I was out here working him out in Maryland for a couple of days. It was important that when we picked him we developed a very good relationship. It is obviously a situation I try to poke and do that kind of stuff to make sure he stays motivated. We try to make sure I challenge him in the meetings. I try to do the best I can to stump him in front of the group, which I have not yet. He is a prideful, prideful player. We are very fortunate to have him.”
If you follow Ngakoue on social media, you can tell exactly what kinds of things motivate him. If he’s not mentioned with the best of the best, he takes offense to it and it drives him to work that much harder to get in that category.
Through two seasons in the NFL, the former third-round pick has racked up 20 sacks and it only looks like he’s just getting started.