Malik Jackson Looks Ready For Big Season In Jacksonville

Malik Jackson, Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Malik Jackson, Jacksonville Jaguars. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

One of the first things you notice about Malik Jackson over the past three weeks here at TIAA Bank Field for the Jaguars OTAs is that the Pro Bowl defensive tackle came back to Jacksonville in great shape.

After a monster season that included eight sacks playing in the middle of the defensive line, Malik Jackson’s offseason commitment to getting himself in even better playing shape could lead to an even bigger year in 2018.

Todd Wash, the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator was asked about Jackson and how he looked coming to camp. Wash was quick to point out Jackson’s appearance on and off the field.

"“He really came in shape,” Wash pointed out. “I know he was gone for a couple weeks in Phase 1 and a week in Phase 2, but he came back in shape. His weight is down. We were actually talking about it yesterday with our Phase 2. He looks good, he is running well and he took a lot of pride in coming back in shape.”"

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Jackson has been a dominant presence on the Jaguars’ defensive line since signed a six-year, $85.5 million contract with $31.5 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $10 million in 2016. He responded with 6.5 sacks in his first season in North Florida and then proved to be even better on arguably the best defense in the NFL last season.

Wash was candid in his comments about the defensive line, saying playing well in 2017 was great, but following it up this season is something the players must focus on. After 10 OTA scrimmages, the bar is being set for improved play in some areas of the defensive as a whole.

"“The biggest thing I think with our whole unit is that we have to have consistency down in and down out. He did a really nice job affecting the quarterback. He had some good numbers pressuring the quarterback, sacking the quarterback.,” Wash explained.“As the season went on, he got better and better versus the run. I know that is a big point of emphasis. Each person has three things they did well and three things they need to improve on. Versus the run consistently for him is the thing that he will improve on. He is doing a nice job so far.”"

The Jaguars showed improvement in stopping the run once the team traded for former Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Jacksonville will need to continue to shut down the run so the pass rush continues to be the team’s calling card, which also helps the secondary with veterans who were amongst the best in the league last season.

"“…[The Jaguars defense was] Second in the league in explosive plays last year? But it is a situation we have to do it down in and down out,” Wash said. “We have to be able to eliminate some of those big plays. If we play consistent and fundamental football, obviously with the players that we have, we have a good chance of being successful.”"