Josh Allen, the Jaguars' 2019 first-round pick (seventh overall), had one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history. Despite playing in a rotational role for much of the year, Allen led all rookies in sacks with 10.5 en route to the Pro Bowl. And even though getting after the passer is his primary function, he proved to be stout against the run as well.
Entering his second season in the league, Josh Allen met with the media on Wednesday. Let's just say he's not going to rest on his laurels moving forward. In fact, quite the opposite: Allen wants to be the best defensive player in football ... this year.
"To be the best defensive player in the league," said Allen when asked about his goals for 2020. "That's high standards. 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. I feel like coming into practice with what I did so far, I feel like my game has grown. I feel like I'm getting more comfortable, but there's still a lot I got to learn. I got high standards this year and just know I'm shooting for the top."
But Allen knows that these types of goals aren't achieved simply by showing up.
"I got great work (this offseason)," Allen told the media. "Jason Smith, he came to my house, and he came to my house before everything started, because I didn't really want to be a part of a big group. He kind of broke it down to me, whatever I want to do. I can come in late nights so it would just be me and him so we can get good work in and that's what I've been doing. I've been kind of doing that religiously, but now I'm starting to calm down on that and taking a step back. I can tell it paid off."
But while many edge rushers are focused solely on getting as many sacks as they possibly can, Allen wants to be a complete player in the NFL. To rush the passer, defenses need to be able to stop the run.
"I feel like I work on pass rushes, but I worked on my whole game," said Allen. "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. That's really what I have been working on. So, I have been working on just getting off my three-point stance as explosive as I can and things like that. I worked a lot of pass rush, but like I said, I worked on trying to be able to stop the run, tackle for losses and be quick on my first step."
Allen has elite physical tools, as evidenced by his 90th percentile 40-yard dash, his 88th percentile 20-yard shuttle, and his 83rd percentile bench-press. When a player with Allen's natural ability takes it upon himself to work as hard as possible to be a complete defender, good things happen. It remains to been seen whether or not Josh Allen will achieve his goals in 2020, but if he gets anywhere close to being one of the top defenders in football, it could mean more Ws for the Jaguars in 2020.
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