Determining who will be the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive MVP this season might be harder to do than on the offensive side of the ball.
While it’s pretty clear-cut that the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive MVP of the 2020 season will come from a trio of players, but the same cannot be said for the defensive side of the ball.
Now that the entire roster is in Jacksonville to begin the start of training camp, except one who is looking to be traded, this defense looks much different than it did just six months ago. And for those reasons, there is no definitive answer to determine who will be the Most Valuable Player for this unit.
There may still be some changes made. Yannick Ngakoue is still a member of the organization but has yet to sign his franchise tender. He has not reported to camp, and cannot be fined for missing time. There is still a belief amongst many that he will be traded before the team’s first regular-season game of the year. That changes things about how defensive coordinator Todd Wash approaches the season.
If the former third-round draft pick is on the roster and has signed his tender for the 2020 season, he is automatically considered a candidate to receive that award.
For the premise of the story, let’s assume Ngakoue will not be part of the team’s game plan.
The majority of the panel from Jaguars.com that was asked to give their opinion about the team’s defense of MVP selected second-year defensive end, Josh Allen. After a 10.5 sack performance in his rookie year, he is expected to once again lead this team and its pass rush. But because the team may lose Ngakoue and has already traded Calais Campbell to Baltimore, there will be more pressure on Allen to work alone without having veterans to help disguise him in pass-rush situations.
“Defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen. He had 10½ sacks while only playing 60 percent of the snaps on defense,” Jacksonville Jaguars sideline reporter Rick Ballou said. “He is an every-down player who defensive coordinator Todd Wash may move around. Allen is a star in the making.”
But the defense cannot succeed based on Allen alone. That means other players who were on the roster in 2019 and players who were either drafted or sign in free agency this off-season may become important pieces to this new puzzle.
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By making changes, the Jaguars’ defense has become more athletic and faster. Players are more multi-dimensional which could cause havoc with offensive game planning. This might be one of the reasons why Wash wants to stick to his 4-3 system, but there is a belief there will be more sub-packages where a 3-4 defense is more active on the field this season.
If Allen is not the choice, then who becomes the most mobile player on the defense? There are multiple answers, of which none are wrong.
Jaguars.com senior writer John Oehser leans toward Allen but also writes there are a few names he would consider.
“Jack could have a breakout year, and Ngakoue should again push for double-digit sacks. But Allen is an elite talent who had double-digit sacks as a rookie and did so playing on a team that rarely held the lead and struggled to stop the run,” he said. “The guess here is the Jaguars’ defense will improve against the run. If that happens, Allen will be in more pass-rushing situations. If he takes the expected jump that many second-year players take, that could mean a monster year for Allen.”
Both C.J. Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson – the Jaguars’ two first-round draft picks – figure to be major parts of the defense and could figure in Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates. That would also give them a leg up in earning team awards. There is Joe Schobert, who the team grabbed as their top free-agent signee. He figures to make the defense instantly. Myles Jack moves back outside. That means trouble for running backs and tight ends. Will he have a comeback season?
And if Jacksonville Jaguars fans want a potential dark horse candidate, then maybe they should look at Ronnie Harrison. The safety has an opportunity to become the leader of the secondary this season and earn his first Pro Bowl nod.
The former Alabama star is a hard hitter who needs more consistency and health. If he can find a rhythm this season and continue to become the aggressive defender he has shown to be, it could mean he becomes the star of the defense this season.