Trevor Lawrence is expected to make a big leap in Year 2 but he isn’t the only Jacksonville Jaguars player that needs to have a monster season in 2022. Outside linebacker Josh Allen also needs to take a step forward and become the Jags’ leader on defense. Kevin Patra of NFL Media believes he will do precisely that.
Patra recently predicted each AFC team’s non-QB MVP and believes Allen will be Jacksonville’s. He also likes running back James Robinson and says he would have been his choice if he weren’t coming off a torn Achilles, which will probably limit his availability at the start of the season. Hence, Patra picked Allen, who has “the most potential to bounce back” in the Jaguars’ new defensive scheme.
"Allen earned a Pro Bowl bid as a rookie in 2019, when he generated 10.5 sacks before a knee injury derailed his 2020 season. With little help in Jacksonville, Allen has struggled to regain consistent form, but he has the most potential to bounce back under defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell. The addition of No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker could help to free up Allen to harass the quarterback with a quick first step that can blow past single blocks. If the Jags were to do the improbable and go from worst to first under Doug Pederson, Allen would have as big a role to play as anyone not named Trevor Lawrence."
As Patra noted, Allen went on to have an immediate impact as a rookie, logging 10.5 sacks. However, he’s had just 10 over the last two seasons. While sacks are not the only indicator of how productive a pass rusher is, the former Kentucky Wildcat wasn’t particularly consistent in 2021. On the bright side, the Jaguars showed they’ve got confidence in Allen and picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.
Jaguars OLB Josh Allen is poised to rebound in 2022
Make no mistake, Allen has been dominant at times and was responsible for some of the Jaguars’ defense’s finest moments last year. His Week 9 performance against the Buffalo Bills showed he can take over games. Similarly, his two-sack outing in the season finale helped Jacksonville pull off the upset and knock the Indianapolis Colts out of playoff contention.
The talent is there, and the Jaguars know it. That’s why they’ve made sure he no longer has to carry the front seven on his shoulders. Besides finding him a bookend pass rusher in Travon Walker, the Jags signed defensive end Arden Key and nose tackle Folorunso Fatukasi in free agency. Opposing offenses will now have to account for other defenders, which will help Allen find more one-on-one matchups and more chances to get to the quarterback.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Allen played at an elite level at times last year but the Urban Meyer debacle might have negatively affected his performance. With Meyer gone and Doug Pederson at the helm, the organization will put their players in a position to succeed.
It’s hard to tell how much the Jaguars have improved in 2022 but they will need Allen to have a great year if they want to win more games and make up some ground in the AFC South.