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Jaguars Linebacker Duo of Foyesade Oluokun, Devin Lloyd Among NFL’s Best in 2023

The Jaguars are getting Pro Bowl-level play from their linebacker duo of Foyesade Oluokun and Devin Lloyd in 2023.

As the old saying goes, defense wins championships. 

Well, it will win you some regular season games as well. For the Jaguars, their dominant defense has helped to propel them to their best seven game record in 16 seasons, now 5-2 on the year. While Josh Allen is on pace for a career year and the secondary is lock down, it is the linebacker unit that is truly blossoming.

We all expected Foyesade Oluokun to come into 2023 and play his game. The back-to-back reigning tackles leader is among the NFL’s best and has produced at a high level for the last several years. Oluokun even owns the NFL mark for tackles in a year, which he set in 2021 with 192 tackles.

Fast forward to 2023 and the tackle king is at it again, except this year Oluokun might be even better. While he isn’t currently leading the NFL in tackles as we have come to expect (He is 2nd), Oluokun has taken his level of play to a different level. Through seven games, Oluokun has collected 81 tackles, 10 pressures, 33 defensive stops, three pass deflections, and a pick-six to add the cherry on top.

Last year the Jaguars spent two high draft selections at linebacker, selecting Utah’s Devin Lloyd and Wyoming’s Chad Muma. Lloyd got off to a fast start but sputtered out towards the latter half of the year. He was later replaced by Muma for much of the remainder of the season.

In 2023, Lloyd was once again named the opening day starter and many were eager to see the young linebacker back in the starting lineup. How would Lloyd look? Had he improved? Would fans see the player they had hoped for when the team drafted him?

Well folks, Lloyd has some answers. Devin Lloyd currently leads all linebackers with six pass deflections and is second in the NFL, only trailing teammate Darious Williams. That is despite missing two games due to a thumb injury. He’s been excellent.

Following the team’s Thursday night contest, Pederson spoke of the defense’s success, “The defense has been playing outstanding all season long. They played great again tonight. It’s rare you’re on the negative side of the turnover margin and still win the football game. To hold them to field goals early, that was big. The guys came ready to play.”

With such a talented linebacking corps, it’s no wonder the Jaguars run defense has been so impenetrable. The Jaguars are allowing just 3.6 yards per carry and 80.6 yards per game. The duo has also made several key plays in coverage, including numerous pass deflections and that pick-six.

This week, Jacksonville travels to Pittsburgh as an old AFC Central rival awaits, boasting a 4-2 record. With young Kenny Pickett at quarterback, expect the Steelers to fall back on their old faithful run game, led by Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren.

A team averaging just 3.3 yards a carry with a young quarterback sure sounds like another outstanding opportunity for Oluokun and company to continue to prove just how great they are.