After a season where the Jacksonville Jaguars run defense was porous, Abry Jones talks about the 2020 season and the effect of COVID-19 on this roster.
As one of the most tenured players on the team’s roster, and someone I have to know as a player while covering this team, there is a passion Jones has about playing football and playing it here in Jacksonville. The former Georgia Bulldog who was an undrafted free agent in 2013 and made this roster, showed some of that passion on Thursday when he met with the media via video conference.
The Jaguars, like other teams in the NFL, are dealing with issues associated with COVID-19. Three players on the team’s roster have opted not to play this season – two of them were free-agent signees. One of them, a key part of the Jaguars coverage teams.
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Jones, who is expected to help the defensive interior this season, spoke candidly about players opting not to play and how that does affect the men in the locker room who are continuing to play football this season, understanding the risks involved and how it may or may not have an effect on their families and the other people who spend time in and out of the building at TIAA Bank Field.
"“You made the decision to come play football, so don’t ruin it for yourselves and don’t ruin it for your team,” he said.“We’re just letting guys know that this is really affecting people’s families. When we come in this building, we’re all brothers, but if you’re not doing your thing outside the building and you bring something into us, we’re going to be pissed. There’s going to be separation in the room and it’s going to divide the team. And that’s something we can’t have.”"
It is the first time someone really hit home how COVID-19 has made an impact with the Jacksonville Jaguars this season. While players must put family safety first and look out for themselves, the reality is topics like this will bring men together but also draw a line in the sand.
Football is the ultimate team sport. Players rely on each other to win games and when there is a disconnection, losing takes place.
COVID-19 is a topic that has brought about a different reality in the NFL this season.
Jones and the Jacksonville Jaguars defense must do a better job of stopping the run this coming season.
"“The Jaguars last season finished 28th in the NFL against the run, allowing 200 or more yards rushing in five games,” writes John Oehser of Jaguars.com. “They allowed the total four times during a five-game losing streak in which the team slipped from 4-4 to 4-9 and out of playoff contention.”"
That cannot happen this season. Jones and Taven Bryan must do a better job at the point of attack. Rookie defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton will be pressed into action more because of players who are not on the practice field. Second-year defensive tackle Dontavius Russell was placed on injured reserve this week and will miss some time.
With the loss of time on the field and the implementation of the defensive scheme by a virtual classroom, it is more important than ever for the Jacksonville Jaguars to come out and prove they are better than the 6-10 showing of last season. Regardless of whether COVID-19 has affected this roster.
"“We lost people on this D-line,” Jones said. “The outside noise is expecting us to drop off. We just have to use that to motivate ourselves. We watch film every day. Everyone feels like they have a chip on their shoulders because they know they’re a better player than that.”"