JACKSONVILLE – Myles Jack’s confidence and enthusiasm is immediately evident.
“I’m ultra-excited, man,” he said.
The reason for the Jaguars’ middle linebacker’s ultra-excitement is ultra-simple:
Jack feels ultra-comfortable entering his fourth NFL season, which will be his second full season playing middle linebacker on an every-down basis. It also will be his third full season with play-calling duties, with the result being a player who feels very much ready for a special season.
We’ll get into why in this Jaguars Monday update, and we’ll also hear defensive coordinator Todd Wash’s thoughts on defensive tackle Taven Bryan and positions of depth on defense.
As far as Jack’s excitement over the upcoming season, it stems from an advanced comfort level and knowledge of the defense that he said has been hard-earned over his first three NFL seasons. While he long has used Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny as a model for defensive play-calling from the position, Jack said Thursday, “I don’t think anyone can walk into the league and re-emulate Paul Posluszny.”
“That’s what I was always kind of chasing when I came into the league: ‘Poz is doing this. Poz is doing that,’’’ Jack said. “Poz always told me, ‘Man, I’ve been in the league so long … it’s something you pick up over time.’ I’ve been fortunate to be in the league for four years and to continue to get better.”
Jack called defensive plays in 2017 while playing strong-side linebacker in base situations next to Posluszny in the middle; Jack played the middle that season in nickel situations. He moved to the middle full time last season following Posluszny’s retirement.
“With Mike (middle linebacker), it’s really like playing quarterback,” he said. “I’ve got to know what Wash is going to call and know what he expects, receive the call, get what he’s doing, get everybody lined up. Whatever the quarterback does, I have a rebuttal for him.
“It’s almost to the point now where I can anticipate a motion, or a change. It’s been really good.”
Jack on Thursday said weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith’s unexpected retirement this offseason further accelerated his development as a defensive play-caller. With Smith out, rookie Quincy Williams was inserted into the lineup as a starter.
Jack said the need to help Williams has increased his own knowledge of the defense. Among the many benefits is that Jack said he should play more instinctively once the ball is snapped.
“It’s going to make things go even faster,” Jack said. “The onus came on me with Telvin not being there. It made me have to up my game even more. Not only do I have to know what I’m doing, I have to know what he [Williams] is doing and be able to communicate, then get everyone else right.
“It’s been a cool challenge, but it’s been great. It’s been a blessing.”
Other Monday takeaways:
*Wash said he likes some of what he has seen in the preseason from Bryan and said moving the 2018 first-round selection to defensive tackle has helped his development. Bryan played end and tackle as a rookie last season. “He does move outside in our heavy package,” Wash said. “But he’s staying in one spot [in other packages]. I think you can start to see his skill at that position being developed.” Wash said the final two preseason games will be important for Bryan. “It’s going to be a big game, obviously – this one and the next one – for Taven, so we can continue to see him develop,” Wash said. “He’s making strides.” …
*Wash said he likes the depth on the line and in the secondary, adding that those areas have been areas of focus within the organization for some time. “It has been built that way for years, especially up front,” Wash said. “[General Manager] Dave [Caldwell] and [Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Tom have done a really nice job of making sure we have the guys up front to play our package. Once you get into the secondary, we’ve had some younger players really step up. For me personally, it was a little bit of a concern where our depth was in the back end coming into training camp. We’ve had some young guys really step up we’re very pleased with – even some of the guys who were not here a year ago have played well. There are going to be some tough decisions.” …
*Wide receiver Chris Conley missed practice with an illness and linebacker Davis Tull missed with a leg injury. Other Jaguars players not practicing full were tight end Josh Oliver, tight end Geoff Swaim, tight end Charles Jones, running back Alfred Blue, Williams and linebacker Jake Ryan. …