The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t having any problems tuning out the proverbial noise that they’re expected to be a strong postseason contender this year.
Although it has been a long time since any such discussion surrounded the team during the offseason, the players need only have to consider one fact before feeling even the slightest temptation to become full of themselves.
‘We’re ready to move forward and try to make it happen’
The final score of the AFC Championship Game: New England 24, Jacksonville 20.
“One of the things that happened was that we lost at the end of the season in a game that we could have won,” Jaguars middle linebacker Myles Jack told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on Late Hits. “It’s been motivating for us and I think guys are over talking about the Patriots, about how close we were. We’re ready to move forward and try to make it happen. Obviously, it was sad for us to lose at the end of the season, but it’s definitely been a motivating factor for guys to get back to that point and experience that game and come out on the other side.”
‘We just made a decision we were going to shock people and just quietly do our thing down here in Jacksonville’
Jack believes the same high levels of discipline and focus will carry the team this year. He trusts that the program executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin and coach Doug Marrone put in place in 2017 will continue keep the Jaguars on track.
“Obviously, it’s a big credit to the new staff that we brought in, with Coach Coughlin and Coach Marrone, them just kind of wiping the clean slate for us,” Jack said. “Obviously, we had some very, very bad years prior to this year, so we just kind of put that all behind us and we just made a decision we were going to shock people and just quietly do our thing down here in Jacksonville. We just took it day-by-day, week-by-week and game-by-game, and we looked up and we were in the AFC Championship. We know what we’re capable of this year and we’re just looking to build on that definitely.”
‘My main goal is just mentally understanding the game and understanding how offenses attack our defense’
The Jaguars’ decision-makers also know what Jack is capable of, and even though he is replacing retired Paul Posluszny as the Mike linebacker, they believed it was safer to minimize Jack’s on-field work during the offseason to make sure he’ll be at a peak performance level in the preseason.
“Obviously, since I wasn’t out there, I got a lot of mental reps and everything,” Jack said. “But just moving forward my main goal is just mentally understanding the game and understanding how offenses attack our defense, and just looking at other defenses across the league and how other teams attack them. Just really trying to get a mental aspect of the game where I could maybe have one ahead of the offense. Obviously, I couldn’t do anything physically, but work out and kind of monitor drills but other than that, really just focus on becoming a better Mike linebacker and just knowing how to quarterback the defense.
‘I’m definitely going to try to grow off the last season and try to get some more interceptions’
“Last year, I had the green sticker on the back of my helmet that we give the Mike, but this year I’ll have the (earpiece) on my helmet again, but I’ll be the Mike ‘backer. So pretty much I’ll always be in the mixture, I’ll always be around the ball and just expect big plays. I’m definitely going to try to grow off the last season and try and get some more interceptions and make some more plays. I’m very excited.”
Jack expects big things from Telvin Smith, the Jaguars’ Will linebacker, because of his “natural abilities” and speed that rivals that of the defensive backs.
‘(Telvin Smith) really understands how offenses are attacking us and that’s something that I’ve really been trying to steal from him’
“He’s extremely fast, extremely quick,” Jack said. “He understands the game. He really understands how offenses are attacking us and that’s something that I’ve really been trying to steal from him. He just has the mentality that he just won’t be stopped, and that definitely shows on the field. It’s definitely fun playing next to a guy like that for sure.”
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