The Jaguars made a lot of additions this offseason, but they need to find a way to keep one player from last year on the field.
The Jacksonville Jaguars defense has been lauded across the league as the most improved over the offseason. The regular Jaguars observer highlights just how much there was to improve. But as we head towards training camp, could it be possible that with all of the new talent in teal this Fall, that the most irreplaceable player on the roster is one that was already here and in fact one that is closer to his retirement age than his rookie year? That player being suggested here is veteran middle linebacker and Paul Posluszny.
It would be quick to jump to the conclusion that a gamebreaker like Telvin Smith, new free agent acquisition Malik Jackson or breakout first year players Dante Fowler Jr., Jalen Ramsey or Myles Jack are all better players. Some of these players already clearly are, some likely will become, but it is only when you consider the role in the big picture that Poz plays for head coach Gus Bradley, and new defensive coordinator Todd Wash’s plans for the year, that the true value emerges.
The reality is for a Jaguars team that needs to be competing for a playoff berth, they can’t afford to lose any of their players.
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If we examine Posluszny at face value, you have a player entering his tenth NFL season with 113 games under his belt and approaching 750 career tackles. He has long been considered a smart player who plays with heart and intensity, rather than being an explosive playmaker. 14 career interceptions and 13 sacks suggests he is a contributor, but it is his role as the gel in the middle of the defense that shows his value, especially for the Jaguars circa 2016.
Examining the depth chart at middle linebacker, things behind Posluszny are not strong. In fact, it could be suggested that rookie Myles Jack is the second best option in the middle, although he is also a likely candidate to start at the Otto. An injury to Posluszny would result in weakening two positions in physical contributions with the resultant shuffle. Further to this would be the void in leadership at a key position, beyond the leadership that the Jaguars have seen emerge and have also imported.
The reality is for a Jaguars team that needs to be competing for a playoff berth, they can’t afford to lose any of their players. They can’t afford to lose any player capable of affecting the opposing quarterback. They can’t afford to lose any player who will attempt to help shut down the passing league (noting the 4 game absence already of Colvin to open the season).
In 2016 at least, they really can’t afford to lose the veteran presence and leadership of Paul Posluszny at his middle linebacker position.