Defensive end Dawuane Smoot has been one of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ best players in recent weeks and he played a big role in the 27-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 9. During an exchange with the local media, head coach Doug Pederson talked about some of the things that have helped Smoot be so productive.
“Every day, he comes in here with a plan to get better”, Pederson said. “We’d love to get more snaps or play longer whatever. But being on a rotation and whatnot keeps these guys fresh. But he’s a team player through and through. He prepares that way, practices hard. He’s a great leader in the locker room with the guys, someone who’s well respected”.
A third-round pick in 2018, Smoot is having a career year. He currently has five sacks and only needs one more to tie his career high. Although he’s played in a three-point stance for most of the year, he saw a significant number of snaps in a standup position in Week 9, which led to two quarterback takedowns.
Even though Smoot hasn’t started a game this season, his five sacks lead the Jags and are more than outside linebackers Josh Allen and Travon Walker combined. Moreover, his sack score of 5.0 ranks in the top 20 in the league.
DE Dawuane Smoot is a key cog in the Jaguars’ defense
All NFL teams would love to have a pass rusher of Myles Garrett’s or Joey Bosa’s caliber but there’s also value in having players that do all the little things well. Smoot’s numbers aren’t eye-popping but he’s been pretty consistent since 2019, totaling 22.5 sacks, four passes defensed, and four forced fumbles in 57 games.
Having said that, Smoot might be better suited for a complementary role. This season, he hasn’t made a single start and has played just 37 percent of the Jaguars’ total snaps on defense, so it’s hard to see him getting an uptick in playing time in spite of his recent success. As Pederson noted, being part of Jacksonville’s pass-rush rotation helps him stay fresh.
It’s also worth noting that Smoot is set to become a free agent after the 2022 season, so it will be interesting to see if the Jaguars intend to re-sign him, which might be difficult when you take into account that they might have a very limited amount of cap space.
The Jaguars will next face the Kansas City Chiefs and if they want to pull up the offset, they might need to hold them to 20 points or fewer. Having another solid performance from Smoot would certainly help.