MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Josh Allen’s approach was simple.
“If I did my job well, good things were going to happen,” Allen said.
Allen, the Jaguars’ rookie edge defender, spoke in the wake of his first game playing with the rest of the first-team defense – a 22-7 loss to the Miami Dolphins in a Preseason Week 3 game at Hard Rock Stadium Thursday night.
The No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft indeed did his job well Thursday – and good things followed to the point that Head Coach Doug Marrone effusively discussed Allen afterward.
“When you get out here on a different stage and you've got starters out there, it just shows you what he's able to do,” Marrone said. “He's been really having a great camp. He's a guy that's going to really help us. I think you saw that tonight against quality competition.
“He's in the backfield. He's making plays all over the field. He's got a big smile on his face. He loves to play the game. He's someone, like I said before, he's going to help us.”
Allen not only had four quarterback pressures Thursday, he also had two tackles for losses. He made impact plays on all four series in which the starters played, including a pressure that led to a sack by third-year defensive end Dawuane Smoot.
“The guy has unbelievable skill,” Marrone said. “You're talking about a guy that's 6-feet-4, 6-feet-5 and 275 pounds and can run, can cover and can do a lot of things. It's a benefit. But make no mistake about it: We like him going after the quarterback.
“He’s only going to get better. That's the one thing. Whatever you see tonight, I can promise you that kid … he's going to work twice as hard, he’s going to be twice as pissed if he missed something or did something.
“That's how he is. He goes after it. So, he's the guy that's only going to get better and better as the year goes on and as long as he's out there.”
Allen said he believed he missed a couple of plays Thursday, saying Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick slipped from his grasp on Smoot’s sack because he is still wearing a protective cast on one hand.
“Overall, there’s room for improvement,” Allen said. “I’m going to get the work in on the things that I missed so those mistakes won’t happen again. Then, I’ll be having a great game. I know I belong. I’ve got to be consistent with it every game. That’s my main goal.”
The Jaguars lined up with a significantly new look on the defensive front to start the game – a 3-4-based formation with defensive tackles Taven Bryan and Abry Jones on the field, and with end Calais Campbell on the line and Allen and end Yannick Ngakoue also in the game. The Jaguars have shown hybrid looks defensively in the past, but this look allows the three players who figure to be their top edge rushers – Campbell, Ngakoue and Allen – to be on the field in a base defense at the same time. “We are just trying to show a lot of different fronts,” Allen said. “We are not just trying to be one-dimensional. We are trying to show a lot of different looks, so teams could prepare for that. We are not just a 4-3, but we are trying to mix it up a little bit and try to keep people on their toes.”
Second-year veteran Will Richardson Jr. started at right guard Thursday, but Marrone said that doesn’t necessarily make him the favorite to start Week 1. Richardson and five-year veteran A.J. Cann have been competing for the starting position camp, and Marrone said he started Richardson Thursday because he has seen Cann work with the first team whereas Richardson had not been in that role. “He's started a game in the preseason, but he's never started a game with the ones or anything of that nature,” Marrone said of Richardson. “I think there's a difference sometimes with some people. Sometimes there's not. So I said, ‘Let's put him in there and start him with the ones and see how he reacts because we know how A.J. would react to that.’’’ Marrone added, “Full disclosure: We talked about it and we’re like, ‘Let’s just flip a coin with those two.’ Fair. They're both battling for a job. Then I started thinking about it during the week. I've seen A.J. (Cann) start. I don't know if Will's ever started with the first group. Different type of atmosphere. Let's see how he does.”