Outside linebacker Josh Allen got off to a strong start in the NFL, registering 10.5 sacks and making the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. However, he hasn't been able to enjoy that level of success in a while and is under pressure to perform in 2023. Garrett Podell of CBS Sports, for one, thinks that Allen is in a position to answer the call and have a career year.
Podell recently drew up a list of veteran players poised to have career years in 2023 and included Allen, pointing out that the Jaguars' dearth of talent in recent years has affected his development.
"Allen, the seventh overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, is like many in Jacksonville who have seen their development stunted on cellar-dwelling squads led by former head coaches Doug Marrone and Urban Meyer. Now, his Jaguars are the AFC South favorite for the foreseeable future thanks to face-of-the-franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence's development under Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson. "
Podell goes on to say that having help on offense and playing with the lead more often should help Allen — who excels at generating pressure — more opportunities to get after the quarterback in 2023.
Allen is the Jaguars' best pass rusher, but by his own admission, he wasn't good enough last year when he registered seven sacks, four forced fumbles and 11 tackles for a loss. On the other hand, his 68 total pressures ranked seventh in the league last year. The effort is there, he just has to finish plays and there are several reasons to think he'll do so in 2023.
Jaguars OLB Josh Allen has a few things going for him in 2023
In Josh Allen's defense, he's had to deal with several challenges over the last three years. The fact that he made it look easy as a rookie didn't help matters. For starters, Allen hasn't gotten much help. Back in 2020, Allen became the team's top pass rusher after shipping Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell. In retrospect, the Jags added an absurd amount of pressure to Allen's shoulders.
The good news is that Jacksonville has taken several steps to fortify the front seven and Allen no longer has to carry the defense on his back. Outside linebacker Travon Walker, the No. 1 overall pick in 2022, is expected to make a leap. Similarly, rookies Tyler Lacey and Yasir Abdullah have the skill set to join the pass rush rotation next season.
Also working in Allen's favor is that he won't have to learn a new scheme in 2023. Having to play for three different coaches and learn three different systems is going to hinder any player's development regardless of how talented he is. Allen's now entering his second year in defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell's defense and having continuity should help him hit his stride.
The Jaguars' brass still believes in Allen. Otherwise, they wouldn't have exercised the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. On the other hand, they need him to become the player they expected when they drafted him seventh overall in 2019, which is why they're taking a wait-and-see approach and want to see how he fares next season before committing to him long-term.
Allen has the tools to be a top edge rusher in the NFL, he just needs to put it all together in 2023. If he does, he and Travon Walker could form a ferocious pass-rush duo for the Jacksonville Jaguars.