On Thursday, Jaguars' head coach Doug Marrone confirmed what we all thought would be the case: Joe Schobert will be the Jaguars' starting middle linebacker, and Myles Jack will move back outside, this time to the weakside.
In the modern NFL, most teams, including the Jaguars, are lined up in the nickel much more than they are in base. That means two linebackers on the field. And for the Jaguars, those two linebackers will be the recently acquired Joe Schobert and Myles Jack.
To start his career, Myles Jack played on the outside at strong-side linebacker. Jack took over as the Jaguars' full-time starting middle linebacker after Paul Posluszny retired following the 2017 season. But Jack never reached his potential in the middle, and it was apparent the Jaguars needed to move him outside, lest they waste the prime years of an uber-talented defender. With Jack's speed, power, and knack for making big plays, the Jaguars will have one of the more explosive and skilled weakside linebackers in football.
In the middle, Schobert will get the defense lined up. Schobert is a tackling machine who won't need to come off the field in clear passing situations. His athleticism and instincts serve him well in coverage. He picked off four passes in 2019 and totaled nine passes defended. Schobert isn't the elite enforcer that Poz once was for the Jaguars, but he has enough natural athleticism, strength, and slipperiness to work his past blockers in run defense. And when he arrives at the ball, he almost always makes the tackle, as evidenced by his 380 tackles over the last three seasons.
“We really feel great about the things Joe has been able to do and what he adds to our team,” said Head Coach Doug Marrone. “He brings an ability to tackle and diagnose plays. He’s a true middle linebacker and has played it at a high level. He’s really going to help us, not only at the MIKE linebacker position, but he also helps us overall across our whole linebacking corps. This gives us the ability to move Myles Jack to outside linebacker, which I feel is a more natural position for him. Myles and I spoke about the change and he’s excited.”
With two high-level linebackers that can cover and play the run, the Jaguars should be able to function much better as a defense in 2020. If they can't help the Jaguars' defense get rolling in the right direction, heads will roll. The two linebackers will make a combined $28 million in 2020.
The Jaguars still have some work to do on defense. They could use another veteran at outside cornerback, and they certainly need a run-stuffing presence at defensive tackle.
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