How Will The Jacksonville Jaguars Adjust Without Telvin Smith?
Remember that time last season when Buffalo Bills cornerback Vontae Davis suddenly decided to walk away from football for good at halftime of a game? Well, the NFL got another strange story of a player taking a timeout from football, when Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith expressed his intent last May to sit out the rest of the 2019 season.
Smith is a talented part of the Jaguars’ core on defense, and not having his services for an entire season will definitely impact the team. A decision has been made, though, by Smith, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to retract it. With that being said, Nitrogen Sports Blog lays out three ways the Jaguars can adjust to Smith’s hiatus.
Three ways the Jaguars can survive without Telvin Smith
Jack it up
Although Smith saw a drop in form in 2018, in which he got his worse Pro Football Focus grade since he arrived in the league in 2014, he’s still quite a loss for the Jaguars’ stop unit. One good thing about the Jags, though, is that they seem to have the depth to handle such a loss.
Among the top rumored replacements for Smith is versatile linebacker Myles Jack, who seamlessly shifted into a couple of positions the past two seasons, playing both the strong side and middle linebacker spots.
Having said that, Jack does not appear to be a fan of the idea of him taking over the weakside linebacker role, making it clear that he’s very much satisfied with his concurrent role, per John Reid of the team’s official website.
“I’ve moved around a lot in this defense, and at this point, I feel comfortable playing Mike, and I feel like at this point it fits me,” Jack said. “But I definitely can understand the prospective of seeing where I would thrive at Will.”
It would be up to head coach Doug Marrone and the Jaguars’ front office to convince Jack to cover the hole left by Smith. But even if that plan fails to push through, Jacksonville has plenty of other bodies to choose from, including a pair of rookies they are lucky to have drafted before Smith announced he’s going to take a bye for an entire year. The Jaguars used a first-round pick to get Josh Allen and spent a third-round pick to take Quincy Williams off the board.
A trip to the market
The Jaguars will always have the free agent market to scour for options. Well, they actually have already rummaged through it and signed a number of names to add depth and options on a few defensive posts.
Jacksonville inked middle linebacker Jake Ryan back in March with the intention of making him a backup to Jack. He’s coming off a torn ACL injury, but is expected to be ready come Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season.
Should Jack eventually make a transition to the weakside linebacker slot, Ryan is very much likely going to handle the starting middle linebacker role. The Jaguars also scooped up the likes of Najee Goode, Jake Ryan, D.J. Alexander, Ramik Wilson, and James Onwualu during the free agency period.
While none of those names have the shine of Smith’s name, Jacksonville would rather have those veterans in its back pocket.
Foles needs to be gold
Over the past couple of seasons, the identity of the Jaguars mostly lied in their defense. That’s likely to remain the case this year, but the arrival of Foles gives Jacksonville some semblance of hope that their offense is going to change for the better by means of cleaning up the mess that Blake Bortles left behind under center.
Last season, Bortles was at the helm of Jacksonville’s offense that ranked 31st in scoring, 27th in total yards per game, and 26th in passing yards per contest. With the Jaguars’ stop unit taking a hit with the absence of Smith, Foles can mitigate the impact of that personnel loss by keeping the offense longer on the field.
Foles once saved the Philadelphia Eagles’ season by leading them to a Super Bowl win in 2018, and now, he’s given the task of lifting the Jags from the rubble that they were in last season.
How will the Jaguars play without Telvin Smith will ultimately be answered by the team itself on the field. After making the playoffs in 2017, the Jags fell off the postseason wagon, finishing with just a 5-11 record in 2018.
They now face an uphill climb back to being a relevant NFL franchise — at least in the AFC. Some people will have more trust on the Jags this year with Nick Foles in tow than the team’s 2018 version, and it’s also likely the same set of football fans willing to put money on the future odds of Jacksonville.
If you’re thinking the same but are still new to the betting aspect of the NFL, you definitely could use an intro to how to bet on sports, which you can read here at Nitrogen Sports Blog along with some topics on our football archives.