Josh Allen, OLB of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is under immense pressure in 2022.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Heading into the offseason, Josh Allen wasn’t exactly lost, but the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ outside linebacker felt like he wasn’t where he was supposed to be: Performing at an elite level.

He certainly looked like he was headed there in 2019 after setting a franchise rookie record with 10.5 sacks, but two years later, there are questions about whether he’s ever going to become the elite pass-rusher the franchise envisioned when they selected him seventh overall.

Allen acknowledges that these questions are legitimate.

Since his rookie season, he has just 10 sacks in 24 games, and he’s battled injuries and struggled with consistency. He made it his priority to return to the same way he played in 2019 this offseason.

“I was really trying to craft myself, really trying to just find myself again,” Allen said. “Find that mentality. “Find my mentality about how I want to approach the game, because I feel like that mindset has been lost.

“I feel like I’m at a good spot right now. Coming back into the building, that energy, I felt like I needed to do more, and that’s the energy I expected to have back in here.”

Allen was a frequent student at EXOS Phoenix for several weeks. He also trained alongside former NFL defensive ends. Bertrand Berry at Train’s Station in Phoenix. Allen completed the first part offseason by attending Von Miller’s annual pass-rush summit in Nevada last Saturday.

Allen stated that his training was a lot about movement and endurance, and not on counters or pass-rushing moves. Allen acknowledged that the physical training was very beneficial. However, Allen also said that he wanted to recreate the feeling he had as a rookie. Allen acknowledged that he can see a significant difference in his performance from the previous seasons.

“I wanted to build my body to withstand durability. Lot of movement, just getting a football feel,” he said. “… I feel like I’m moving better than I have been in a long time.

“That’s the growth I really needed. I had to be a football player again. Not a pass-rusher, but a football player, and move like it.”

That’s a good thing because 2022 is a critical season for Allen. While the team offered Allen his fifth-year option, it is uncertain if he will be offered a long-term contract.

Allen had a disappointing season in his second season. He missed eight games due to a knee injury, and recorded just 2.5 sacks. He previously said that he believed that the injury and the lack of production are related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allen did better last season, with 7.5 sacks and a career-high of 71 tackles. He also had his first interception. However, he was inconsistent. In his eight first games, Allen had 5.5 sacks. His best game against the Steelers was his final. Buffalo Bills And the quarterback Josh AllenHe had been ill for a while. a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery and eight tackles in the Jaguars’ 9-6 upset TIAA Field.

However, he had just three quarterback hits, two tackles for a loss, and no sacks over the next eight games (he missed one because of COVID-19 protocols) before a two-sack performance in the Jaguars’ 26-11 upset You can find the Indianapolis Colts In the season finale.

He knows that he can’t disappear like that if he wants to be an elite player.

“Just be consistent,” coach Doug Pederson said. “Just be who he is. Don’t try to do anything other than just be Josh Allen. His talent should speak for itself. Feed off of the guys around him and step up as a leader, which we’ve seen him do since he’s been back.

“He’s an excitable player, someone that can make a lot of plays on defense, and I think with some of the new additions that he’ll be able to get back to that.”

The primary addition is No. The main addition is No. Travon WalkerAllen's outside linebacker, with Jeremy Walker on the other side. The belief is that teams won’t be able to concentrate on stopping Allen with Walker on the other side and that should free Allen up to make more plays.

That’s what happened in his rookie season. Allen was helped by former Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell And Yannick NgakoueAllen combined for 14.5 tackles and 45 touchdowns. In addition to his team-high 10.5 sacks that season, Allen also had 23 quarterback hits – just two fewer than he had in the past two seasons combined.

Linebacker Devin Lloyd Drafted 27th overall in April. Free-agent defensive end Arden Key (Career-high 6.5 bags last season with the San Francisco 49ersThe ) should also be helpful to a pass rush that produced only 32 sacks (less than all but four teams) in 2021.

“I think [the additions] can only help him,” Pederson said. “And it takes a little pressure or stress, whatever, off of him. If success is present, and we wish it is, then it might be that Josh is able to do more of what he did just a few years ago. I think having those pieces around him can do that.”

Defensive end Dawuane Smoot said he’s noticed a difference in Allen this spring.

“I’ve seen that he’s a more vocal leader,” Smoot said. “I feel like he’s really stepping up in that category and leading us through all this craziness that’s been going on. There have been many changes. Many new things.

“… I know a big thing this year: He really took his preparation really serious.”

Allen stated that he needed to do so because he still has much to prove.

“I know I needed to grow,” he said. “I know I’m better than what I’ve been doing, so I really had to reassert myself and pick up my standards.”

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