JACKSONVILLE – What's happening is no fluke.
It's not just ability, either. No, the reason Myles Jack is playing well this season – perhaps as well as any Jaguars player – is as much about what Jack does off the field as what he does on it.
"He's playing at an extremely high level," Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said.
Wash, speaking on his weekly video conference with local media, on Thursday spoke extensively of Jack's approach this season – and how off-field study and preparation has helped make him not only the Jaguars' best defensive player but one of the NFL's best linebackers this season.
"He's doing a really good job of preparing," Wash said as the Jaguars (1-7) prepared to play the Green Bay Packers (6-2) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis, Sunday at 1 p.m.
"You see him working extra. Most of this stuff [game-planning and meetings] is virtual [this season], but there are all hours of the night where you'll get a text and there will be questions coming from Myles. It's a lot of credit to him with the work he has put in. He's playing at a really high level for us."
Jack, in his fifth NFL season, moved to weakside linebacker in the offseason – his first full season at what Jaguars coaches believe is his "natural" position. He has used his athleticism, strength, and speed to play at a level that has drawn praise from teammates and coaches all season.
"He's nasty," defensive end Josh Allen said following a loss to the Houston Texans this past Sunday. "Myles is a ballhawk, man. He's definitely one of the best linebackers this year, and he's continued to play like that. When he's healthy, he's a bad man."
Jack had double-digit tackles in the first three games of the season, then missed all or parts of the next four games with an ankle injury sustained late in a Week 4 loss at Cincinnati. He played the entire game against Houston Sunday and registered 11 tackles, a pass defensed and a forced fumble.
He was named a second-team midseason All-Pro selection by Pro Football Focus this week.
"Hopefully, he gets the recognition he deserves," Jaguars middle linebacker Joe Schobert said. "Obviously, he has missed a couple of games and in the situation we're in just in terms of our record [post-season recognition could be difficult]. But when he's in there and he's healthy he has been playing hands down some of the best football of anybody I've ever had the privilege of playing next to."
Rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (hamstring) was among seven Jaguars players practicing limited Thursday with the others being rookie cornerback Chris Claybrooks (shoulder), safety Josh Jones (chest), center Brandon Linder (back), guard Andrew Norwell (calf), left tackle Cam Robinson (knee) and linebacker Kamalei Correa (hip). Veteran tight end Tyler Eifert (neck) practiced full after missing Wednesday with a scheduled day off and safety Andrew Wingard worked full with a core muscle injury after working limited Wednesday; Wingard has been designated to return from injured reserve. Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. (illness/not COVID-19-related) was among seven Jaguars players missing practice Thursday with the others being defensive end Adam Gotsis (scheduled day off), linebacker Dakota Allen (ankle), rookie defensive tackle Doug Costin (concussion), quarterback Gardner Minshew II (right thumb), tight end James O'Shaughnessy (scheduled day off) and running back Devine Ozigbo (hamstring). Costin is not expected to play Sunday.
Jaguars Head Coach Marrone on playing at historic Lambeau Field: "It's a great place. It's all about football. It's all about the Packers. It's exciting because of the history. There's a moment when you go there when you're driving up you think about everything that has occurred there. Then, obviously the professionalism … you kind of stop and you just go play."
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on playing at Lambeau with no fans because of COVID-19: "It's weird playing in an empty stadium everywhere, really. Even the small amount of people we get at our games that are loud, it's different. Obviously, it's a lot better playing at Lambeau as a road team being empty than full, so we don't have to mess with the snap count issues. But it's still a great, historic place and I'm anxious to get up there."