Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny has been the rock of the defense for six seasons, but his renaissance year in 2016 came too late and he will see his time on the field take a hit.
Count me among those who love Paul Posluszny. He’s the kind of old-school thumper middle linebacker that embody the heart and soul of a defense. He is the prototypical general for a defense when he steps onto the field.
While Poz has not always had the best abilities as a player, he has been reliable and a rock for a team that desperately needed stalwart players to build around.
Building a better defense clearly began in earnest in 2016 for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Posluszny responded immediately. After being surrounded by mostly mediocre talent for half a decade, Posluszny was able to excel in his role with the team as the talent level increased.
Just how good was 2016 for Posluszny? It was probably the best year of his career. Pro Football Focus graded him out as follows:
It’s worth noting that PFF’s grades are not the be-all-end-all for discussion of a player’s worth, but it does provide a relatively consistent benchmark to compare a player. Based on their grading system, Posluszny clearly had a major uptick in his play last season.
The only problem is that after years of being strong tackler but not delivering the impact plays the team desired, the Jags moved on by drafting Myles Jack in 2016. Jack will be assuming the middle linebacker duties for the Jaguars moving forward as Posluszny shifts to strongside linebacker.
It’s also worth noting that a late-career renaissance after 10 seasons is highly improbable and likely not going to be sustainable. The Jaguars need the future and they need it to start immediately. Jack is still unproven, but he will be entering his prime shortly while Posluszny’s career is in its twilight.
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The narrative surrounding Posluszny is nothing new. His play was closely watched last year as fans eagerly anticipated seeing Jack take the field. Poz was able to keep the younger player at bay for one season, but it may be time to start looking more toward retirement than toward the next season for the longtime captain of the defense.
Personally, it pains me to simply write off such a highly regarded season as simply a last hurrah for such a stud player. But that may be what it was. Posluszny is certainly still going to be a part of the defense going forward (and an important mentor for Jack) and we shouldn’t discount his contributions. Yet as we prepare for another physical year of NFL football, it’s hard not to start thinking of Poz’s 2016 as a renaissance year that simply came too late.