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The Jacksonville Jaguars enter the bye week at 2-5, a stark contrast from where they’ve been 7 games into recent seasons. While 2-5 would be a discouraging record for most teams, it signals improvement for a team that only won 7 games in the last 2 seasons, and it’s somehow good enough to stay in the hunt in a downright horrific AFC South.
As we slow things down for the bye week, we can take some time to look back and grade out each position group to help piece together how the Jaguars got to this point.
Let’s move on to an area that has flashed at times – linebacker.
Here are the overall linebacker statistics after 7 games:
- Telvin Smith – 68 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 TD
- Paul Posluszny – 56 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 INT
- Dan Skuta – 28 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble
Going into the season, one of the perceived weak spots on the defense was the linebacker position. Outside of Telvin Smith, the Jaguars don’t really have anyone who fits the bill of dynamic playmaker in the middle of the field, but the starting trio has been adequate at the very least for most of the season.
Perpetually a beacon for criticism from fans, Paul Posluszny has quietly put together a solid year. Despite his two interceptions, he is still somewhat of a liability in coverage, but he has been vital to the Jaguars’ above average run defense. In his lone game on the sidelines, Doug Martin and Charles Sims ran roughshod on the Jaguars defense and Posluszny’s replacement (Thurston Armbrister) looked absolutely horrific. Poz is far from perfect, but he’s the Jaguars best option at middle linebacker right now and he actually hasn’t been bad.
Dan Skuta has been the odd man out in nickel packages, but he’s provided a much needed pass rush every so often. He’s definitely the best blitzing linebacker the Jaguars have but he is also not very good in coverage. He’s been a solid free agent signing thus far, but he’s not exactly a building block moving forward.
The guy who is a building block is Telvin Smith. Along with Aaron Colvin, Smith is the one of the few young players on defense who has steadily improved and flashed the ability to change the momentum of the game. He has become a terrific run defender and has learned to function in traffic despite his smaller stature. He’s had some low points in 2015 but he’s been exciting and shown he can play a role on this defense as the Jaguars try to will themselves to contention.
Bye Week Grades: Linebackers – C-plus
- Telvin Smith – B-minus
- Paul Posluszny – C-plus
- Dan Skuta – C-plus