Can the Jacksonville Jaguars have the same kind of success with their pass rush this season with different talent as they did last year?
The Jacksonville Jaguars could start the 2020 season with two-thirds of its dominant pass rush playing somewhere else.
Calais Campbell was sent packing to Baltimore this offseason in a trade for draft compensation. Yannick Ngakoue, who has requested a trade from the organization since March, is still technically part of the team’s future, but has not signed his franchise tag tender or has been able to get the front office to find a suitable trade partner to make his wish come true.
For now, he is a man on an island waiting for something to happen. There is still a chance he will start the season in Jacksonville in Week 1, but he won’t be happy about it.
That leaves Josh Allen, the second-year rising star who had 10.5 sacks last season and exceeded expectations while only playing a limited role in what defensive coordinator Todd Wash used as his scheme last season. Another year on the field will benefit the former Kentucky star and SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
But without the two veterans in the lineup, will teams focus more on him, which could mean a drop in sack totals?
The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t without players who can come in and supplant the loss of numbers from both Campbell and Ngakoue, but the talent level is not as great.
That might have been the reason the front office signed players who filled the defensive end/outside linebacker role for either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme this season.
"“Josh Allen is the team’s top pass-rusher and the Jaguars will try to replace Ngakoue’s production with a mix of [K’Lavon] Chaisson, Cassius Marsh (14 career sacks), and Aaron Lynch (20 career sacks). Don’t overlook Dawuane Smoot, either,” writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com. “After making little impact his first two years, he had 6.5 sacks last season.”"
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Smoot might be the most underrated player on the defensive line in Jacksonville coming into camp. After a third season where he finally showed he could help the pass rush, and could also move inside in sub-packages, he could have an even bigger season. But expecting him to replace the productivity of Ngakoue might be asking too much.
With Marsh and Lynch, you have two players who are fast and athletic and fit the profile the team was looking for this offseason. If by some miracle of chance the Jaguars are able to get Ngakoue to sign his tender and look toward the 2020 season, the former Maryland star might use it as motivation to have his best season in North Florida to ensure he is traded and the Jaguars get the compensation they are looking for.
"“Ngakoue might end up reporting at some point, though, if no team steps up and is willing to trade for him. He could be faced with the choice of sitting out or playing under the franchise tag ($17.8 million),” DiRocco added. “It’s tough to leave that kind of money on the table, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.”"