The 2021 offseason completely revamped the Jacksonville Jaguars. The maligned franchise had every aspect of its organization inspected, weighed, measured and often found wanting. A new head coach and fresh set of standards were the first steps. Then through the draft, free agency and ultimatums to current players, the staff put together what is essentially a brand new roster.
After a season in which the Jags finished 1-15 (an unenviable feat but one that beget Trevor Lawrence), the club really has nowhere to go but up in the first season featuring 17 regular-season games.
Head Coach Urban Meyer and players have said consistently this offseason that they’re working to win now. As admirable and understandable as that goal is, the reality is, this team is in a massive rebuilding process. When in the midst of a rebuilding process, every single piece counts and it’s ok to take time making sure each is perfect to do the job. This is especially true when rebuilding a team. Each player contributing will be of the utmost importance; but some will have the onus put on them more than others.
As we move closer to the 2021 schedule, we take a look at the 10 most important Jaguars for the coming season.
No. 9: Joe Schobert
There was a decent amount of debate between us here at Jaguar Report on whether or not to make this Joe Schobert or Myles Jack. Both sides had valid points. Jack’s ability to man the sideline at WILL (weak side) linebacker can determine if something is a short gain or explosive play. But in the end, we went with Schobert because this is a list of the 10 most important players to the Jaguars for 2021; emphasis on important.
Why is Schobert so important, you ask. Simple, he’s the quarterback of the defense, and this is a brand new defense.
For the past few years—including last fall, which was Schobert’s first in Jacksonville—the Jaguars have been running what was colloquially known as a 50-under front. This called for five men on the line, two linebackers and a standard four-man secondary. The only real different looks substituted a nickel corner.
It was the last vestiges of an old system that didn’t have the ability to keep up with a quickly changing NFL offensive style.
With the hiring of Joe Cullen as defensive coordinator, the Jaguars' coaching staff have all alluded to a change on the defensive side of the ball, indicating Jacksonville will be playing a more 3-4/4-3 defense. This defense puts three on the line and then allows a roving linebacker to move and drop, electing to rush, cover or play the run depending on the offensive look. It takes better advantage of the talents of guys like Josh Allen, K’Lavon Chaisson, Myles Jack for that matter, and even the physicality of the Jags beefed up secondary.
Over the next few weeks, and in this series, we’ll dive more into this new defense and who has the potential to star as a result. Regardless, it’s a new system for those that were on the roster under the last regime, which includes the majority of starters in the front seven.
Most of these guys played this defense in college, where it has been finely honed to counter spread offenses. They concepts themselves won’t be new. But the calls will be, as will the terminology. If the Jaguars plan on having the entire defense on “1 Page” come “Day 1”, it will depend largely on Schobert.
The middle linebacker is responsible for the calls on defense, making sure everyone is in place and for that matter, making sure there are the correct 11 on the field. His entire career as a MIKE linebacker indicate this won’t be a problem. But it doesn’t make it any less important.
*The video below is a great example of Schobert's responsibilities during a game.
Schobert is an excellent tackler—fourth in the NFL in 2020, with 141 total—and a ball hawk, actually leading the Jaguars in interceptions last season with three. He’s a piece around which a defense can be built for his talent alone.
This coming 2021 season though, in a new defense with new faces, so much of the success will depend on Schobert having a complete grasp of the system, making him one of the most important players for the Jacksonville Jaguars.