On Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost 33-25 to the Cincinnati Bengals and the defense had an abysmal showing again — there was zero pass rush and Joe Mixon had a career day, rushing for two touchdowns then adding another through the air.
Since holding the Indianapolis Colts to 20 points in Week 1, the defense has given up 32 points per game and allowed a 77% completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks.
It’s been bad, folks.
But there has been a bright spot, in the form of linebacker Myles Jack. Jack moved back to WILL after an up and down season in the middle, and has flourished in his role. Through four games, he leads the team in tackles and has one of the Jaguars’ four (4!) sacks on the season. He’s been flying all over the field, and his impact was felt in Week 4.
So, without further ado, we head into a special one player edition of the Film Room.
LET’S GET INTO THE TAPE, BABY!
Myles Jack on the field
What makes Myles Jack so special in this role is his quick trigger and play speed. Last year at MIKE, Jack spent too much time trying to diagnose the play, and overthought often. As a linebacker, the worst thing you can do is sit and overthink. You have to treat it like jumping rope or riding a bike — once you see the opening, you have to go. If you overthink, you’ll miss the shot and have to keep waiting to get on, or you’ll fall flat on your face and be the laughingstock of the fourth grade.
On this play, it looks like an inside zone play from the Bengals. Joe Mixon is looking for a hole to cut back into and creating space. Jack comes on what looks to be a designed blitz (I knew Todd Wash reads my articles!) and looks to be clogged.
Taven Bryan gets washed down into the gap Jack blitzes into, and it looks like there’s no way Jack should make this play. But he somehow squeezes in between the two linemen and Taven Bryan and stops Mixon at the line of scrimmage.
That’s elite linebacker play, something Jaguars fans have known Jack can play at. Also shoutout to Josh Allen for blowing up this run play — using a receiver to block a defensive end is not a great strategy.
Clip One: There's no way Jack should make this play. It's an zone run, and Joe Mixon is essentially looking for the hole. Taven Bryan gets washed into the hole Jack attacks, but somehow he makes the play for no gain(great play by Josh Allen too) pic.twitter.com/srOqjQTES3— JP Acosta (@acosta32_jp) October 7, 2020
This next play is where Jack excels, at the run and chase part of playing linebacker. Essentially a WILL’s job in this defense is to play fast and flow to the ball. Jack does this perfectly here. The Bengals run a fly sweep with Tyler Boyd to the short side of the field. Jack is aligned to that side, and immediately diagnoses the jet action. He looks to make the play immediately, but sees tight end Drew Sample attempting to block Jack. Jack then does a subtle sidestep and disengages from the block.
This play should have gone for six or more yards. Instead, Jack stops it for a gain of four.
Clip Two: A great play here by Jack to diagnose the fly sweep that the Bengals run here, but a subtle thing here is his change of direction. He initially steps inside, but sees #89 attempt to block him. He switches up, and instead of a huge gain, he stops it for a gain of 4. pic.twitter.com/JDqj6LBT45— JP Acosta (@acosta32_jp) October 7, 2020
This was probably one of the plays of the day by the Jaguars as a whole, and it comes on a pivotal goal line play. Literally everyone falls for the play action here, and it looks like Joe Burrow has an easy touchdown pass. Jack recovers on the play, and had the instincts to snatch the ball from Sample like stealing candy from a baby.
This is a truly fantastic play here by Myles Jack.
Clip Three: Here's the interception everyone has been talking about. Everyone gets sucked in by the play action, and Jack makes a really impressive play to recover and have the awareness to go for the ball. pic.twitter.com/WpI6sItHFl— JP Acosta (@acosta32_jp) October 7, 2020
So... what happens when Myles Jack is out?
Myles Jack went out of the game with an ankle injury in the 3rd quarter against Cincinnati, and immediately the drop off in play speed at the second level was evident.
Dakota Allen, who replaced Jack, doesn’t have that same second gear when it comes to play speed, nor the quick trigger to attack when he sees the hole. The linemen don’t even attempt to block Allen, and due to his hesitation, he and Joe Schobert brush into each other, slowing them both down. This is the exact same sweep play ran earlier that Jack stopped for a gain of four, but Allen can’t hit that second gear, and hesitates when he sees the opening.
This results in a gain of nine.
Like I said earlier, you wait too long to jump in with the jump rope, you’ll miss the shot.
When Jack got injured and left the game, the defense took a serious dip at the second level. Neither Schobert or Dakota Allen has the same play speed that Jack has, and the Bengals exploited that. This is the same sweep play that Jack stopped for 4, but Allen can't get there. pic.twitter.com/t49eMNvmH2— JP Acosta (@acosta32_jp) October 7, 2020
This touchdown by Joe Mixon heavily exemplifies the impact Myles Jack has on the defense — and a lack of execution caused by talent, coaching, or all of the above.
The same inside zone play, but this time Burrow fakes like he’s going to keep the ball. Both linebacker Dakota Allen and safety Andrew Wingard run into the same gap. Wingard gets a down block from the tight end, so he crashes the backside edge. Josh Allen also gets a down block and crashes. Dakota Allen gets a zone key from the guard and tackle, and he misdiagnoses the play. Rather than filling the hole that’s open, he goes to where Wingard is, leaving a linebacker-sized gap in the middle of the defense.
It’s an easy six points for Mixon, and a microcosm of how the Jaguars defense has played this season.
Finally, this zone play that Joe Mixon scores on. Allen and Andrew Wingard run to the same gap, leaving a hole where Allen was. Easy house call for Mixon. pic.twitter.com/DqjYYHy2Qz— JP Acosta (@acosta32_jp) October 7, 2020
Myles Jack is playing at an All-Pro level, one that puts him in the upper echelon of off-the-ball linebackers in the game today. However, he needs the other 10 players on the field with him to step up their play in order to get this defense turned around.