Jaguars OLB Josh Allen pops up in list of most improved players in 2021

Linebacker Josh Allen #41 of the Jacksonville Jaguars makes a sack on Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Linebacker Josh Allen #41 of the Jacksonville Jaguars makes a sack on Quarterback Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

Even though the Jacksonville Jaguars are 2-7, their defense has played at a high level in recent weeks. And edge rusher Josh Allen has been one of the players that has made it possible. Thus it’s not surprising to see him show up in a recent list.

Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report recently discussed every NFL team’s most improved player in 2021 and Allen was the pick for the Jags.  He points out the Kentucky product had an off year in 2020, logging just 2.5 sacks and 13 total tackles, and 11 quarterback hits. Knox goes on to say Allen has become more than “just the situational edge-rusher” he was in his rookie campaign, tallying 5.5 sacks 17 pressures, and eight tackles for a loss this season.

Knox notes Allen has appeared in 76 percent of the Jags’ total defensive snaps, a career-high. Also, he’s three tackles shy of logging 44, which would be as many as he had back in 2019. Finally, Knox recognizes the third-year edge rusher has also been solid in coverage.

"While Allen isn’t regularly used in pass coverage, he’s held his own. He’s allowed an opposing passer rating of only 61.9 and has four batted balls after logging only one in his first two seasons."

Edge rusher Josh Allen is having a career year with the Jaguars in 2021.

Knox is not the only writer that recognizes Allen is having a great year. In fact, you could make the case he’s selling him short. John Shipley of Jaguar Report recently talked about the 2019 first-round pick having a breakout season and argues that he’s starting to stand out on a larger scale.

As Shipley says in his article, Allen has never been bad but he’s taken his game to another level this season. In Week 9, he had arguably one of the best defensive performances of the year, logging eight total tackles, two tackles for a loss, a sack, a fumble recovery, and an interception.

The truth is that Allen’s production took a hit in 2020 because he dealt with a knee injury. Had he stayed healthy, he would have been more productive. Probably not as much as this season but the Jags’ defense could have surely used him, as they mustered just 18 quarterback takedowns. Even if Jacksonville isn’t able to double their sack totals from last year (they have 16 after nine games), their defensive front is better than it was and that’s partly thanks to Allen’s return.

The Jaguars’ offense has struggled to score points in recent weeks for several reasons but their defense has come up big and Allen has played a key role. If he keeps playing at this pace, he will most likely earn the second Pro Bowl selection of his career and maybe even his First-Team All-Pro designation. The latter may be a tad more difficult but shouldn’t be ruled out based on the way he’s playing. Regardless of how many accolades he gets in 2021, there’s no doubt he’s become the Jags expected when they drafted him.

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