I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really like Paul Posluszny. I really like middle linebackers that are tackling machines. It’s a little old school, but I think that it’s a great role for any defense and Posluszny does it better than anyone else. He was in on 162 tackles last season, good for tops among all linebackers.
But is he the most valuable Jaguar?
Better yet, is he a liability?
For the former, let’s turn to the Florida Times-Union’s coverage of the 10 players the Jags can’t live without:
"Defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks said it best in training camp when asked what Posluszny means to the defense. Everything, was Marks’ reply. It’s hard to argue. Posluszny ranked second in the NFL last season in tackles with 161, a whopping 63 more than any other Jaguars defender. He’s started 92 games in his career and is the clear voice of the defense."
For the latter, let’s look at Pro Football Focus’ 2014 preview:
"Heck, he also finished third in our Run Stop % signature stat with a 14.2 score. But that score doesn’t negate all the times he was slow over the top of a run or failed to get off a block, all of which contributed to a -7.7 overall grade. That’s not terrible but for a defensive leader should you expect more? Or do you accept a little bit less when the ball is snapped because of what he brings to the team before it is? Posluszny is not a poor player but he is limited, and having a limited building block will always cause you problems."
As I already stated, I love tackling machines like Posluszny. I think that his -7.7 overall grade is not entirely reflective of his ability to stop the ball carrier and his ability to orchestrate the defense. But there is a grain of truth in the last line on Posluszny from PFF: the guy is limited.
If the Jaguars are looking for something more from the linebacker corps, it isn’t going to come from the MLB. As good as he is at jumping on ball carriers, Posluszny simply isn’t going to be a sack artist (career high of three sacks last season) and he isn’t going to develop top-tier coverage skills. In fact, he’ll most likely continue to be beat in coverage. Posluszny simply isn’t not a very versatile player.
That said, the Jaguars do need him. He is the best linebacker on the team, hands down. He has a great football mind and he directs the defense better than most guys in the league. Perhaps most importantly to his job security, the Jaguars are incredibly thin at linebacker. If the jags see some young guys step up and Posluszny is no longer the guy having to make all the tackles, we may see the Jags take another look at whether he really is all that important for the defense. If the young defense can outplay its limited building block, it may be time for the Jaguars to move on. 2014 will be the telling year for the coaching staff and personnel department.