Josh Allen Focused on More Than Jaguars Rookie Sack Record
When the Jacksonville Jaguars selected University of Kentucky defensive end Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the hope was he would be able to be an effective tag team partner for fourth-year defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
Through 12 games, Allen has done that and more. After sacking Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston during Sunday's 28-11 loss, Allen has notched nine sacks despite playing in a rotational role and rarely getting starters snaps under defensive coordinator Todd Wash. Those nine sacks are a piece of Jaguars' history, giving him the Jaguars rookie record for sacks in a season, surpassing the eight sacks Ngakoue totaled in 2016.
Considering the resources Jacksonville has spent in young defensive ends during the team's history (first-round picks used on Derrick Harvey and Dante Fowler Jr.), the fact that Allen has met and surpassed every expectation set for him is one of the few bright spots of a season gone off the rails in Jacksonville.
But despite making Jaguars' history this season, Allen has bigger fish to fry. He wants more than the sack record, he said after the game.
“It doesn’t mean anything, especially not today," Allen said about the record. "It’s good that I accomplished it, but that wasn’t my end goal. I’m just trying to win the game.”
Jacksonville sits at 4-8 after Sunday's loss and even the energetic and typically positive Allen was somber in the locker room after the final whistle, even despite his solid game, one in which he pressured Winston frequently and saw an uptick in snaps.
But maybe that is because Allen is a big-picture thinker, or he at least appears o be one. Allen was asked after the game about the satisfaction of living up to the Jaguars' expectations of his play, but he quickly said it is his own expectations he is trying to meet, implying that he pressures himself more than anyone else can.
“My mindset is not living up to their satisfaction. It’s living up to mine," Allen said. "I feel like I can go week in and week out where nobody can cover me, block me and try to have that mindset every week. I’m going to continue that throughout the rest of my career and try to get better for myself and my teammates.”
One would theorize that Allen has done more than enough to earn more snaps in the Jaguars' defensive line rotation after a historically strong start, but Allen said he is also not overly focused on that. Instead, he is looking to continue to improve and make the most out of the snaps he does see on Sundays.
“Coaches put me in certain situations, and I can’t control when I’m out of the game," Allen said. "Once I’m in there, I just try to make as big of an impact as I can and hopefully get more reps. I just know when I’m in there, I have to make my opportunities count.”
Allen will undoubtedly be one of the most important pieces of Jacksonville's future as they try to find their way back to a winning formula. If his mindset moving forward is anything like it was on Sunday, then Allen should put himself in good position to continue to meet both the expectations of the team and his own.