With the retirement of Paul Posluszny, the Jaguars drafted Leon Jacobs and moved Myles Jack (wasn’t down) to middle linebacker. How he does could determine how Jax does on defense. Yes, it’s that big of a move.
Little is said about the nuances that come from switching from being a Sam to being a Mike. It’s manyfold. The first factor in this is the Jags must feel very confident that Jacobs can handle the SLB position.
Before getting into this, know that moving Jack to the MLB means they think they’ll be playing with a lead most the time. 65% of time, teams with leads play sub packages. Hence, the last thing a team would want would be Jack riding the pine 35% of the plays.
Often when teams go from base to nickel, they usually sub a DB for the SAM. Since Jack is a hell of an athlete and strong enough to hang with tight ends, plus stop the run, they want to keep him on the field as much a possible.
How will moving change how he plays?
If a player is the Sam or Elephant, not only does he have a different responsibility, but how he sees the field, reads the entire offense, changes. Not only is he viewing plays from a different perspective, but his timing is affected, as well.
In a 4-3 defense, the SAM is a bit slower, but stronger. They time their first step, their tilt to arrive at the quarterback or whomever is on the edge to hit him with maximum force and the right height. With so many rules in place, they’re like a pitcher trying to throw a strike in a small area.
What they think, how they react is stems from the C gap. Quick twitch guys.
Moving inside changes everything. Besides making them cover Y’s/TE’s requiring them to cover more area, they also have to stop the run up the middle if the back gets past the tackles.
OLB in a 4-3 predominately tackle backs around the edge where speed is a big factor. When backs power up the middle, one arm tackles won’t get it. Their shoulders need to be squared up. They’re also looking at the play with more bodies in front of them.
The first step they take instead of barreling toward their target, is now one that requires a different technique and the ILB is who quarterbacks are looking to exploit with ins, slants, etc. Hence, he needs to be smart.
The short passing game goes through the ILB. Stink at stopping them and it’s going to be a long day. While a Mike has the DL to help stop runs up the middle, they’re often alone in the passing game. Sure, the safeties can and do move up, but if they’re involved, often it means the ILB didn’t do his job.
Fans should understand that it will take Jack a little while to nail this position because he needs to retrain his muscle memory on how to react to each play. Most likely, quarterbacks will throw in his area to challenge this. Don’t be surprised if he’s a little inconsistent until he’s had a few games under his belt.