The Jacksonville Jaguars are counting on several players to step in 2023 if they want to return to the playoffs in 2023. And none will arguably be under more pressure to perform than outside linebacker Josh Allen, who's entering a crucial season. In fact, Michael DiRocco of ESPN believes the fifth-year pro is on the hot seat ahead of the regular season.
ESPN ranked all 32 teams. The Jags popped up at No. 11 but they also used the opportunity to list one player or coach on each club that's currently on the hot seat. For Jacksonville, DiRocco picked Allen, noting that he's racked up total pressures at a high rate but hasn't been able to reach his full potential.
"The No. 7 pick in 2019 is playing on his fifth-year option, and what he does this season will determine his future in Jacksonville. He has not been the dominating pass-rusher the team hoped for -- he had 10.5 sacks as a rookie but just 17 in 41 games since. He was among the league leaders in QB pressure percentage last season (15.3%, which ranked seventh) but had only seven sacks. A double-digit sack season would at least get Allen franchise-tagged and might lead to a potential long-term deal."
Allen, the seventh overall selection in 2019, is one of the few remaining players the Jags acquired before the 2020 season. He had a pretty good rookie campaign, one that ended on a trip to the Pro Bowl. However, he's dealt with several situations that haven't allowed him to play to the best of his capabilities.
In 2020, a knee injury limited the former Kentucky Wildcat to eight games and two sacks. Then, Urban Meyer took over and had a negative effect on pretty much every Jaguars player in 2021. With Meyer gone, Allen was expected to show out last year and he kind of did. He was among the top pass rushers in the league when it came to total pressures. Similarly, he ranked fourth in the league in true pass sets but his sack tally left a bit to be desired.
Although sacks aren't the only way to measure an edge rusher's impact, the best ones routinely register 10 or more in a season. Allen had seven last year. It's fair to say that the Jaguars believe he's capable of more than that.
Jaguars OLB Josh Allen enters a crucial year of his NFL career
Josh Allen was excused from practice ahead of the regular season and he also missed Organized Team Activities early in the offseason. However, he's looked determined to live up to expectations in Year 5. He was one of the team's most dominant players in training camp and Jacksonville will need him to deliver in 2023 if they want to have a chance to repeat as division champions and a deep playoff run.
The Jags are expecting Allen, along with an improved Travon Walker, to wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage and that's the thing. There isn't much depth behind Allen and Walker, so they'll need to step up if they want to make a stand against the top quarterbacks in the league.
There's no doubt that Trevor Lawrence can get into a shootout with either Patrick Mahomes or Joe Burrow — the Jags will face both quarterbacks in 2023 — but forcing them to throw under pressure would increase Jacksonville's chances of beating either one.
This is why it's crucial for Allen to dominate. If he does, the Jaguars won't probably mind giving him a top-market contract. But if he doesn't, his future will probably become cloudy. Would the Jaguars move on from him? Will he be willing to take a free-agent deal, or would he be fine hitting the open market?
Both the Jaguars and Allen win if he breaks out. They could have one of the league's top pass rushers and he'll get the long-term security a multi-year deal provides. Knowing this, Allen's most likely incentivized to have a dominant season in 2023.