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Jaguars LB Myles Jack talks improvement, Australian voyage and team success in 2020

After a down 2019, Myles Jack has become a force for the Jaguars’ defense this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Sometimes change is a good thing, and Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack has undergone plenty over the past few months in Duval.

Drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Jack quickly became one of the team’s most-valuable players on defense, helping the Jaguars to an AFC title appearance in just his second season.

After taking the role as the team’s middle linebacker in 2018, and carrying that same role with the team in 2019, his play appeared to dramatically decrease, especially this past season.

Playing in just 11 games due to a knee injury he dealt with throughout the season, Jack posted some of his worst performances of his career, something he readily acknowledges.

“I feel like it was due to my injury, but at the end of the day, it’s a performance-based job, and I feel like I completely shit the bed last year,” Jack said frankly when speaking to the media on Wednesday.

While traveling with his girlfriend on a business trip to the land down under, Australia, Jack received a call informing him that he was to play weak-side linebacker rather than his usual MLB position, a change, Jack says, he welcomed with open arms, “excited.”

“I completely understood what they were going for,” said Jack. “And I mean, that’s the nature of the business, so when they did that, I was like, ‘Okay, I’m a WILL now and I’m just going to continue working hard; get my body right, get healthy and just show everybody that I can still do what I’ve been doing.’”

While in Australia, Jack found a trainer by the name of Piero Sacchetta at Advanced Athletes Performance. It was Sacchetta who helped Jack get ‘back to the basics.”

“I feel like that’s why I’m moving so quick and I’m able to hit linemen the way I can, or make tackles, or just fly around and just move fast,” said Jack who has totaled 22 tackles and a sack on the year thus far.

“I just really had to refocus myself and re-center myself and that’s really what I focused on once I did my surgery and got right.”

Sacchetta taught Jack various French/Australian workouts, squatting, running hills, and more in an attempt to get his body in the best shape as possible, something Jack says might just be his “secret recipe” moving forward if the year turns out the way he believes it will.

“I really attribute my success this year and how I feel to what he had me doing. So, I just kind of brought that back when I got back over here and got right.”

This season, Jack has been one of the team’s best defenders, almost always around the football. Without having to worry about lining players up, or communicating as much as he has in the past, Jack has seemingly played with much more intensity and quickness than he might have in the past.

“I mean he’s been balling,” Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen said on Tuesday. “He’s been coming downhill, making the interior d-linemen’s jobs a lot easier, taking the double teams off, making plays in the backfield. So, he’s definitely been doing a heck of a job. With Joe [Schobert] being there, Joe has to do all the communication so Myles [Jack] can just line up and just play ball. See ball, get ball.”

Jack has seen plenty of his former teammates depart. Including himself, there are only two players left on the 2017 defense that nearly went to the Super Bowl. A change that, while it didn’t appear to make sense from an outsiders perspective, made total sense in the vision that Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has preached, Jack said.

“He just knew the people that he wanted in the building, that he wanted, and he had his own vision,” Jack said of Marrone. “And what he decided to go with was what he decided to go with and I truly feel like he’s got the right plan. He’s really trying to build this team atmosphere where as long as we [have] each other and we can lock arms and stick together through the highs and lows—you guys have seen it.”

The Jaguars have played as a collective unit through the first two games of the season. While they haven’t always gotten off to fast starts - down 7-0 early against the Colts, and down 14-0 early against the Titans -, they’ve remained focused, able to bounce back and either win or come just a field goal away from winning, respectively.

“But teams in the past that I’ve been on, it kind of gets ugly once we get down, but this team, we just know that, ‘Okay we’re a team, we can depend on the offense a little bit and the offense can eventually depend on the defense.’ We’ve got to give them a little bit more, but they can depend on us.”

Earlier this season, Jack was voted as a captain for the second time in his career. Jack says he has embraced his leadership role, helping guide the young players on the team to buy in and appreciate the plan set in place by Marrone and the rest of the team’s coaching staff, rather than trying to do things their own way, he says.

“These coaches are putting in effort, putting in hours to come up with a game plan, to come up with a scheme, so the least you can do is meet them halfway and execute and do what they ask. Because at the end of the day, you do what they scheme, it’ll typically go right and then you’ll play well, you’ll get paid well and you can live, you can enjoy this league.

“So, that’s kind of the message that I’ve kind of been preaching to guys. It’s not us versus the coaches, it’s not us versus anybody.”

Over the offseason, the Jaguars were thought to be the NFL’s next “tanking” team, a team with little to play for and an objective of not doing much to improve itself. Jack says it’s not the case, and the team can see that.

“I think younger guys are starting to see we’re not a bad team and even us as older guys, we’re like, we knew we weren’t a bad team, but once we got in those situations where we had to battle and we saw how we fought, we realized that we’re a really good team,” he says.

The Jaguars have plenty of young talent that has allowed the team to be successful this season. Rookies Laviska Shenault, James Robinson, CJ Henderson, K’Lavon Chaisson, and more have all made plays to help their team win or nearly come back to win, and Jack has seen that.

“We’ve just got to tighten up on a couple different avenues and we’ll be fine.’ So, the confidence and the swagger is coming, I just think we had to overcome the initial, ‘Oh the Jags are tanking,’” said Jack.

“But we knew we had a good team all along, we just had to go out there and do it. And now we’ve kind of got that swagger, like, ‘Okay, we’re ready to go and we’re ready to play.’”

The Jaguars and Jack will get another opportunity tonight as they face off against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.