Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen made his goals and aspirations quite clear on Wednesday.
“To be the best defensive player in the league,” he said frankly to reporters when asked about his goals and expectations he set for himself entering this season.
As a rookie, Allen was one of the most dominant players on the Jaguars’ defense, becoming the first rookie in franchise history to make the Pro Bowl after leading the team with 10.5 sacks on the year. As the No. 7 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the outside expectations for Allen were already off the charts, but he’s always held himself to a high standard.
“I had a high standard last year and I kind of achieved that goal. But now, I set the bar really high for myself and I’m looking to stay there and stay at the top and I’m going to push myself as much as I can push each year. This year I’m not holding anything back, I’m coming in as best as I can, the best version of me.”
While Allen didn’t win defensive rookie of the year in 2019, he led all rookies in sacks and was the only player 22 years or younger to have more than nine.
This offseason was, quite frankly, bizarre. There were no OTAs, minicamps, team meetings or many places where players typically would go to hone their craft in a group setting against others. No, Allen and all of the Jaguars players had to figure it out on their own, whether through their own personal trainer or otherwise.
For Allen, he spent his time here in Northeast Florida, training locally at Rise and Grind, a training facility for athletes in Orange Park. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Allen would routinely have his trainer, Jason Smith, come to his home for sessions only seldomly training with others.
“I’ve been kind of doing that religiously, but now I’m starting to calm down on that and taking a step back,” said Allen who would spend his time this offseason studying film, including on his own teammates Jawaan Taylor and Cam Robinson. “I can tell it paid off.”
The regimen didn’t only consist of honing his pass-rush skills, the rising-star is training to become a complete player, able to perform all aspects of his position.
“It’s so big to get caught up in the sacks – this is just talking about people in the NFL – it’s so big to get caught up in the sacks if you’re considered a pass rusher and I’m not trying to be considered as just pass rusher. I am trying to be considered a great defensive player. My main focus is going to be to stop the run, tackle for losses, plays that destruct the whole offense.”
Allen is back with his teammates now, but with two young children and his wife, Kate, at home it wasn’t an easy decision to make, he said about returning this season. Ultimately it was Kate’s blessing that really made him feel comfortable, able to continue pursuing his dream and raising the bar for his career.
“She really encouraged me to keep playing football this year because she knows what I’m striving for in my career,” said Allen.
“She’s really helpful, and she’s doing her best to keep the kids inside the house and keep them busy until I get home and I got to take over. I have a great support system and great support staff at my house, and I’m just here to stay safe and hope everybody and my teammates do the same thing.”