The Jacksonville Jaguars used this past offseason to clean house and, in the process, they’ve made defensive end Josh Allen the face of the defense.
Following a rookie season that saw the former Kentucky standout named as a Pro Bowl reserve, Allen has big shoes to fill after the team’s top pass-rusher, Calais Campbell, was traded to the Baltimore Ravens. Jason Rebrovich, currently the defensive line coach for the Jags, believes Allen is more than ready to take on the challenge, calling him “an eager, gritty man who wants to become the best.”
“That’s what you want as a coach,” Rebrovich said of Allen, according to Jaguars.com writer John Oehser. “Josh has that every day. He’s ready to go. I’d be late in the office last season and I’d have Josh calling saying, ‘Hey, I’m watching this [offensive] lineman … did you see his set?’ It started to click with him more and more and more.
“You hear everybody talk about the game slowing down. Is it there with Josh? No. Is it coming? Yes, there’s no doubt about it. To have a guy like that who has that drive, who wants that push … those guys make it exciting.”
Jacksonville entered the offseason as one of two NFL teams already over the allotted salary cap limit. The organization ditched quarterback Nick Foles and a few other pieces on defense to help alleviate the financial strain and begin its rebuild. Campbell was traded while fellow defensive end Yannick Ngakoue might not play another game for Jacksonville, leaving Allen, who recorded a team-high 10.5 sacks in 2019, as the key returner.
The Jaguars spent its precious draft picks on several talented defensive prospects that will hopefully complement Allen early on. Jacksonville isn’t expected to compete for a playoff spot, and some believe they could be the worst NFL team in 2020, but it’s clear that the front office sees something special in Allen.
“The biggest thing we’re looking for from him is to continue to improve, continue to make impact plays – which he has,” defenisve coordinator Todd Wash said, according to Jaguars.com. “As a coach, you always want a young man to continue to develop as a leader within our unit. Obviously, losing some veterans up front, everybody’s saying, ‘We need Josh to be a leader … We need Josh to be a leader…’ The biggest thing is we just need him to continue to improve as a player fundamentally. The leadership stuff will naturally come. I don’t think as a coach you can say, ‘Hey, this our leader. We need you to become our leader.’ I think it’s just naturally going to happen. He has shown that already in this offseason, taking control of some things within our defensive-line unit.”
While this season might be more about tanking for someone such as Trevor Lawrence as opposed to wins and losses, Allen is expected to be at the forefront of any success the Jags achieve.