The 10 Most Important Jaguars For 2020, No. 8: Joe Schobert

John Shipley

2020 is a make-or-break year for the current regime leading the Jacksonville Jaguars. While this may sound like a broken record after being overly repeated since the disappointing 2019 season drew to a close, it is the simple truth.

In the last two years, the Jaguars have finished in last place of the AFC South each season while compiling a 11-21 record. In fact, 2019's meager 6-10 record, as bad as it was, was actually one of the better records the Jaguars produced during the 2010s decade. The past has been ugly for the Jaguars and the team will assuredly put as much energy as possible into changing this in 2020.

As the Jaguars attempt to reverse their look and field a winning team in the fall, they will need all 53 members of the active roster and every coach on the staff to step their game up. But among those on the team, there are a select few players who will be especially pivotal to Jacksonville's success.

As we continue to move forward toward the start of the 2020 NFL season (pending one actually taking place), we will take a look at which players we think are especially important next season.

The list started with nose tackle Al Woods at No. 10 and then second-year right tackle Jawaan Taylor at No. 9. Now, we move onto No. 8 and take another look at the defensive side of the ball in linebacker Joe Schobert. 

Schobert agreed to terms with the Jaguars in March for a five-year, $53.75 million contract which included $12 million signing bonus and $21.5 million guaranteed, making him the team's most significant free agent addition. 

“We really feel great about the things Joe has been able to do and what he adds to our team,” said head coach Doug Marrone said when the team agreed to terms with Schobert.

“He brings an ability to tackle and diagnose plays. He’s a true middle linebacker and has played it at a high level. He’s really going to help us, not only at the MIKE linebacker position, but he also helps us overall across our whole linebacking corps.

So, why is Schobert's performance so vital to Jacksonville's success in 2020? We break it down here.

Why Joe Schobert is important for the Jaguars in 2020

It is no secret that the Jaguars struggled to get serviceable play from its linebacker group in 2019. From Myles Jack to Quincy Williams to Najee Goode to Austin Calitro, the Jaguars tried multiple linebacker pairings due to both poor performances and injuries, but nothing stuck. 

The biggest issue was at middle linebacker, where Jack struggled to find his comfort level in his second season at the position. In many ways, putting Jack at middle linebacker actually limited his ability to impact the defense because he was forced to do the thinking for the defense as opposed to just pinning his ears back and playing. 

That is where Schobert comes into play. Schobert will be tasked with manning the middle of Jacksonville's defense and ensuring the 11-member unit is lined up correctly on each given down. This will move Jack to weak side linebacker and, ideally, would upgrade the Jaguars at two different linebacker spots. 

“I came in at the same time as Myles Jack and I remember in college watching UCLA stuff when he was playing running back and linebacker, running all over the field and making plays all the time. I think the 2017 (AFC) championship game against the Patriots, if you watched that game, you just see the talent he possesses, how fluid he is as an athlete and how sudden he can be and explosive," Schobert said in May. 

"My goal for me coming in here is to just take things off of the plate, being able to set the defenses, make the calls, make the checks and their adjustments and let Myles just go be an athlete out there and wreck the game which he has the ability to when he doesn’t have to be caught up in trying to get other people lined up and be responsible for all that communication.”

Another reason Schobert will be key for the Jaguars is the fact that he is a bonafide playmaker in terms of creating takeaways. Last year, the Jaguars' defense missed this greatly as their linebacker group created just three turnovers: one interception and two fumble recoveries. 

In Schobert's time in Cleveland, he recorded 408 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, six interceptions, and a staggering seven forced fumbles, along with 20 pass deflections. He is a steady playmaker and a capable presence inside, all traits that fit the Jaguars' needs at the second level of the defense.

In 2019, Schobert started 16 games and totaled 133 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two sacks, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, and nine pass deflections. He has a more established track record as a playmaker at the second level than any other linebacker on Jacksonville's roster, meaning he will be key as Jacksonville tries to reverse its defensive fortunes.

Schobert has been a consistent, dependable linebacker for Cleveland for the last four years, and now Jacksonville needs him to do the same early in his Jaguars tenure. Behind him sits Jack and rookie middle linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, making Schobert far and away the best option at Mike linebacker for 2020. Jacksonville needs him to be an iron man, playmaking linebacker from the start, making him a key piece of the defense this season.  

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