As we approach the mid-point of the 2016 season, let’s take a look at how our rookies look so far.
Yannick Ngakoue: This very exciting young prospect started the year with an attention garnering combination of stats. Our third round pick out of Maryland has 14 combined tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception in his rookie season. The only problem is… his stats have fallen off over the past several weeks. Although Yannick hasn’t recorded a sack in three games, he regularly gets pressure on the quarterback and collapses pockets. I’m anticipating that 2017 will be a good season for both Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr.
Dante Fowler Jr.: When we talk about players who answered the call for more passion and a heightened level of play, we have to mention Dante Fowler Jr. during Sunday’s frustrating loss to Kansas City, in which Fowler recorded four tackles and a combined sack. I was pleading with our at times overzealous defensive end through the TV to control the trash talk in front of the refs. Normally, I like to see that kind of thing but Fowler has been flagged a lot recently for extra-curricular activity on the field. Through all the struggles of the season, Dante Fowler Jr. has used his high motor on the field and begun an upward trend in terms of pressuring the quarterback. In 2016 Fowler has 21 total tackles and 2.5 sacks and is on pace for around 50 combined tackles and six sacks. Six sacks on the season is perfectly acceptable and about average for successful rookie pass rushers in recent years.
Jalen Ramsey: Ramsey had yet another great game. His stats may appear to be low at first glance but can be simply explained when you see that Ramsey has absolutely become the least targeted corner on our defense, especially in the case of this past week at Kansas City because of the injuries to their receiver group. As a result, Ramsey’s stat-line in the Chiefs game was only two combined tackles. His season stats are a bit more impressive than his more recent stats indicate. Ramsey has 32 combined tackles and two pass breakups. If I had to pick one part of the defense I’d hope Ramsey would help improve, it would definitely be his proven ability to force turnovers. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; Ramsey’s elite athleticism is limited by the cornerback position. Yes, Ramsey is the best cornerback on our team. No doubt about it. I just wholeheartedly believe he’s a hall of fame level free-safety. The free-safety position offers something both very obvious and yet extremely useful to Jalen Ramsey. Freedom. Free safety is a position that would highlight his elite athletic abilities and could allot him the freedom to turn his natural football instincts into turnovers. Just a thought.
Sheldon Day: Sheldon Day is operating mostly in a reserve role and is losing snaps to some of the other new young faces on the defensive line. He has 4 combined tackles on the season and didn’t record a stat in this weekend’s game against the Chiefs.
Myles Jack: I was actually pleased with the situational awareness by our defensive staff this weekend and the appropriate use of the otto package. Dan Skuta played well this weekend and took snaps from Myles Jack. The rookie from UCLA is much better on passing downs than Skuta but against a run-first team like the Chiefs, Skuta is a better option. Jack began the game taking most of the snaps in place of Skuta, but was replaced more frequently as the game progressed. Myles Jack finished with only one tackle in the game. These stats are indicative of the slow start that Jack has had this season and unfortunately the rookie only has 10 combined tackles on the year. However, I’m not at all worried about the future of our young linebacker. He’s learning from quality students of the game like Paul Posluszny and will earn more and more snaps from the Jaguars coaches because he has plenty of athletic ability to carry him through the mental struggles of a rookie season.
At the mid-point of the 2016 NFL season, the Jaguars once again look to have loaded up on young talent but unfortunately the Jaguars coaching staff have shown that they have no idea how to get the best out of them. Luckily, we can all look forward to getting a bunch of new coaches at the end of the season!
Above all, Go Jaguars!
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