There’s no question Myles Jack had success as a weak-side (Will) linebacker in the season opener on Sunday versus the Indianapolis Colts.
The Jaguars’ second-round selection from 2016 has been the subject of heavy criticism over the past two seasons while manning the middle, but a mid-career position switch may reignite the fire that seemed to fuel him during his first two years in the NFL.
Last season, Jack signed a lucrative four-year contract extension with $57M with $33M in guarantees. On the year, Jack played in just 11 games due to injuries, and in the games he did play in, his struggles to man the middle were evident, likely due to how much was put on him as the team’s quarterback of the defense.
It seemed as though a change was inevitable.
On Sunday, Jack’s impact was felt immediately. The weak-side linebacker tallied 11 total tackles (eight solos), the second-best on the team, while accounting for a sack, three quarterback hurries and one tackle-for-loss. Jack had only one missed tackle during the game in the first quarterback.
Jack was everywhere, and, certainly, that’s what the team was hoping for when they made the switch following the signing of free agent linebacker Joe Schobert, who currently mans the middle.
“I felt good about that, during the week I felt really good,” Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said of Jack’s play following the team’s 27-20 victory over the Colts. “I think when you look [at] last year, there [were] a lot of things that hurt us in a certain area of the field, throwing the football wise. And we were able to get Myles there and really work hard on it.”
While the Jaguars did have some issues covering the Colts’ receivers on Sunday, Jack’s ability to fly sideline-to-sideline eliminated much of the production from Indy’s tight ends and receivers crossing his face. If a player did catch the football, Jack was there immediately to limit his gain, keeping everything in front of him.
At one point in the game, Jack came up big in space against speedy Colts receiver Parris Campbell. Campbell was sent on a simple drag route, and appeared open for a split second before Jack was able to use his speed, hitting Campbell nearly as soon as he caught the football. Jack would record a tackle-for-loss on the play.
“You know, [Philip] Rivers has always had a lot of success with a lot of things. And at times, depending on what your call [is], that Will linebacker is the guy that’s going to be there one-on-one or be able to make the play. So again, saw the tough physical, saw the tackling coming up, you see Joe [Schobert] directing everyone. So I was very happy with that.”
Jack’s revival as a Will is going to be a situation to monitor as the season moves forward. His debut was as good as anyone has seen him play since 2017 when he was able to play more of a free-flowing role with the team working alongside former Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny, who has since retired.
There’s still plenty of games left in the season, and while he did have success in week one, Marrone knows his players are going to continue striving to get better, seemingly a theme that the players have bought into this offseason.
“The best part about this team—even if I say, whatever I say, I can say it’s great and everything, they’re going to say, ‘Ugh I’ve got to work on this, I’ve got to get better at this.’ And that’s what I’m talking about [with] this football team.
“And I really – I know we’re working to get better every day and we’re working to push. No matter what happened today, win or lose—and I know if we lost it would’ve been awful—and we won. But I really believe that this team will get better as we get going.”
Yesterday, the Jaguars made several roster transactions. The team elevated cornerback Sidney Jones to the 53-man roster from the team’s practice squad, while placing safety Jarrod Wilson on injured reserve.
They’ve also signed rookie CB Josh Nurse and 1st year RB Craig Reynolds to the PS and released rookie CB Amari Henderson from the practice squad.