The Jacksonville Jaguars are 8-3 heading into Week 13. Their defense is one big reason why. Although they aren't creating takeaways at the same rate they did before their BYE, they've still been able to stymie opponents thanks to Josh Allen and the pass rush, which has been a strength in recent games.
Allen has a career-best 12.0 sacks for the season and came up big in the clutch in the 24-21 win over the Houston Texans. Rightfully, he's getting recognition from the national media and is even garnering consideration for the 2023 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
Just recently, Cameron Wolfe of NFL Media made the case for Allen as DPOY, "not the other Josh Allen anymore. In fact, he should work his way into the Defensive Player of the Year conversation," Wolfe told his colleagues during an appearance on NFL Insiders. "Maybe that's bold, we got T.J. Watt and Myles Garrett. Those guys are worth of the praise but Josh Allen has really lifted this Jaguars defense."
"I was there in Houston for that big AFC South battle, and he literally changed that game and the final drive. They have a chance, CJ Stroud does, to tie the game up or win the game. And Josh Allen has a sack and a half on that final drive to push them to the outer edges of field-goal range. They missed that field goal by literally a foot, and it's because Allen took over that game," Wolfe said.
Allen is in the middle of a career year, passing Yannick Ngakoue for second place in the team's all-time sack list while posting 66 total pressures, the second most in the NFL. Although he had 10.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2019, his production took a dip the past three years.
Not having the luxury of playing alongside Calais Campbell and Ngakoue didn't help but he also struggled to hit his stride. Granted, he did show flashes of dominant play. His performance against the Buffalo Bills in Week 9 of the 2021 season was proof he could play at an elite level but he also disappeared for stretches.
Thus, the team's brass decided to take a wait-and-see approach with Allen in 2023, letting his contract play out. The bet paid off in the end, as he's finally become the player the Jaguars expected when they drafted him seventh overall in 2019.
Josh Allen is a reason for the Jacksonvillle Jaguars success in 2023
Trevor Lawrence is the Jaguars' most valuable player. After all, he plays the position with the biggest impact on the outcome of a game, and he does it at an extremely absurd level. But if you had to choose their second-most valuable player, or the most important one on defense, Josh Allen would probably be the unanimous choice.
Despite the fact that Allen hasn't been named team captain the past two seasons, that's not an indicator of the impact he has in the locker room, but even if you wanted to bring captain designations into the conversation, he got the nod in 2020, and 2021. Going back to his leadership, he's helped Travon Walker, the first overall selection in last year's draft, immensely in his development. And just recently, Allen presented Walker with cleats of his foundation. That's the kind of thing leaders do.
But leaving aside Allen's off-field deeds, he should indeed have a case for getting Defensive Player of the Year honors. Granted, he'll face tough competition. He'll probably go against fellow pass rushers Myles Garrett and Danielle Hunter but helping his case is that the Jaguars are winning while the Cleveland Browns and the Minnesota Vikings, respectively, are middle-of-the-pack teams.
The more the Jaguars win in 2023, the more attention Allen will get. He'll need to take advantage of that newly acquired spotlight to show how good he is. If he does, the DPOY award and a top-market contract extension should come his way.