PFF highlights the Jaguars linebacker corps biggest weakness in position ranking

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Foyesade Oluokun (23) reacts to his third down stop. Devin Lloyd
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Foyesade Oluokun (23) reacts to his third down stop. Devin Lloyd / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars revamped their linebacker corps last year and it figures to be one of their biggest strengths in 2023. However, Dalton Wasserman of Pro Football Focus recently highlighted a glaring weakness in the unit.

Wasserman ranked all linebacker corps in the league ahead of the regular season and put the Jaguars at No. 17, noting that they have a promising group, led by Foyesade Oluokun, but they struggled to defend the pass last year.

"The Jaguars have a ton of interesting potential at the linebacker position, led by Devin Lloyd. Lloyd flashed that potential in the run game, finishing the year with a solid 69.0 grade in run defense. Foyesade Oluokun and Chad Muma also showed flashes, each posting run-defense grades just above Lloyd’s mark.

However, this group struggled mightily in the passing game, with Lloyd and Oluokun combining to allow 1,536 yards into their coverage. Lloyd’s 32.4 coverage grade was fourth-worst in the NFL, and that performance heavily contributed to Jacksonville’s struggles defending the middle of the field."

Wasserman goes on to say that sophomore Devin Lloyd should improve in coverage in 2023, pointing out that it took him a while to hit his stride at Utah. But he's not alone. Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports, in a separate article, wrote that he believes fellow second-year linebacker Chad Muma will be much better when dropping back.

On the other hand, Oluokun not only led the league in total tackles for the second straight year. He also became a leader on and off the field. Just recently, head coach Doug Pederson excused all veterans from mandatory minicamp but the player known as James Brown showed up anyways because he wanted to develop a relationship with the younger players and be a positive influence.

The Jaguars linebacker corps must do a better job in coverage in 2023

All things considered, the Jaguars got a fair spot in Wasserman's ranking. The same can't be said about their wide receiver corps but he's right that they much do a better job of defending the pass next season. After all, opposing offenses often attacked the middle of the field because they know that's where Jacksonville was the most vulnerable. And clubs won't stop if the Jaguars don't fix their coverage in the middle.

Working in the Jags' favor is that Muma and Lloyd are still developing. They both took their fair share of lumps while they made the adjustment to the NFL but they got much better as the 2022 season progressed. Also in the mix will be Ventrell Miller, who might not be ready to contribute for the opener but showed solid coverage skills at Florida. Now, the Jaguars know Oluokun struggles in coverage but precisely for that reason, they won't put him in a position to fail.

One thing that could help the Jaguars defend the middle of the field is running more 4-3 packages. With Muma and Lloyd stepping on the field at the same time, there would be no need to drop either edge rushers Travon Walker and Josh Allen in coverage even though they rarely did last year (157 combined coverage snaps).

As Wasserman noted, the Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker corps have lots of upside ahead of the 2023 season. It's up to Muma and Lloyd to turn that potential into on-field production.

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