The Jacksonville Jaguars began their voluntary virtual offseason program on April 27th, only a couple of days following the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft. Due to the on-going quarantine caused by the coronavirus, teams are unable to meet with players in person and must offer alternative methods to conduct the meetings.
Jaguars linebacker Joe Schobert spoke about the changes to the offseason yesterday via a Zoom video conference call with the local Jaguars media yesterday, likening the offseason program to the 2011 lockout where the players were not in any program at all until July 25th, when the NFL and NFLPA came to a collective bargaining agreement.
The Jaguars began their first defensive install — essentially when the players can figure out exactly what they will be doing on a given situation. The issue, however, is the team cannot workout together, where typically players are sent out in a walk through following the meeting, able to take what they learned to the field.
MLB @TheSchoGoesOn53 was pure class on today’s Zoom, and we appreciate him making himself available to local media.— Tad Dickman (@TDickman89) May 5, 2020
Talked about leading by example, studying the heck out of the playbook & being a new father on a new team in a unique offseason.
SCHO https://t.co/dRMbcHdkQz pic.twitter.com/fPOE0DP5je
“It’s definitely going to be different,” Schobert said of the virtual offseason. “You’ve just got to be really studious and kind of pay attention in the classroom, or in the virtual classroom, way more and kind of go through the film. It’s going to be a lot more just watching film and putting yourself in the shoes of the guys who are in it because you are not going to be able to talk.”
Schobert added that players will need to make the calls and checks through the Zoom meetings, but admittedly, “it’s not the same.”
“That’s what I miss the most about OTAs, but I’m doing my linebacker drills and my running and stuff. I can go out and do that any time. If people want to join me (on the local field), as long as they’re six feet away, I’m cool with that.”
For the Jaguars, their meetings are rather straight-forward. The coaches have already per-recorded their meetings along with a PowerPoint, using the XOS system, basically something players and coaches use to watch film. At their own leisure, they can watch the film in the morning prior to their position meeting at 1:00 p.m. in which the players will go over install quickly and begin watching film.
“They’ll have us, the MIKE linebackers, make the call, like the post calls and give some of the safety communication, make some of the checks,” said Schobert. “So you’re kind of playing through the game a little bit over the film and then you just talk about certain coaching points every play.”
For the Jaguars, and all teams around the NFL, the offseason program is typically where players can get accustomed to each other, learning how everyone thinks on the field. Without it, it gets a bit trickier, however, Schobert and his teammates are making the best of the situation, getting “small talk” in every now and again.
His running mate this season will be linebacker Myles Jack, who is making the move to weakside linebacker after playing MIKE (middle linebacker) over the past two seasons, a change Schobert thinks will greatly benefit the fifth-year player.
“I came in at the same time as Myles Jack and I remember in college watching UCLA stuff when he was playing running back and linebacker, running all over the field and making plays all the time,” Schobert said, noting that he saw Jack playing in the team’s 2017 AFC title game against the New England Patriots — probably Jack’s best game as a Jaguars linebacker.
Now, Schobert will assume the duties Jack typically had in the past, able to make the checks, calls, and adjustments which will allow Jack to play more freely and simply “be an athlete out there and wreck the game.” This will be a significant benefit to the Jaguars’ defense this year, or it should be as Jack has always played better without too much on his plate.
Changes are plentiful when it comes to the Jaguars’ defense this year, and the addition of Schobert and the movement of Jack is going to be something to watch as the season progresses.