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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
2013 position review: Linebackers

By michaeldirocco

Each day for the next two weeks we’ll review how each position group performed in 2013, and take an early look at 2014. Today we’ll examine the linebackers. We did defensive ends on Monday and defensive tackles on Tuesday.


Breakdown of starts: Paul Posluszny (15), Russell Allen (14), Geno Hayes (14), John Lotulelei (1), J.T. Thomas (1).

Recap: There was no more consistent player on the roster than Posluszny, who led the Jaguars in tackles for the third consecutive season. His 161 tackles was second in the NFL and he also added three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a career-high 10 pass breakups.

He was the lone Jaguars player that deserved Pro Bowl consideration yet he said he felt he didn’t deserve to make the Pro Bowl because he didn’t make enough big plays. However, coach Gus Bradley said Posluszny was affecting about one in every 3.5 plays, which is a very good ratio for a linebacker.

The problem was that the Jaguars were terrible against the run, giving up 131.8 yards per game rushing (29th in the NFL).

Posluszny was on the right path when he said he didn’t make enough big plays. None of the linebackers did, though Posluszny was by far the most significant contributor there. Hayes had 78 tackles but just one sack, two interceptions, and three pass breakups, although he did play through a knee injury for nearly the entire season. Allen didn’t have an interception or a sack but did recover two fumbles.

Still, that’s not enough of an impact.

Looking ahead to 2014

Players under contract: Posluszny, Allen, Hayes, Lotulelei, Thomas, LaRoy Reynolds, Nate Stupar.

The skinny: Lotulelei, Thomas, Reynolds and Stupar were mainly special teams contributors and that’s likely to be their main role in 2014 as well, though Thomas flashed a bit at the end of the 2013 season. Posluszny will again anchor the middle of the defense and Hayes, who underwent knee surgery at the end of the season, likely will go into camp as the starter.

The unit does need an upgrade, however. Whether it’s in free agency or through the draft, the Jaguars need to find athletic outside linebackers who can rush the passer and at the very least hold their own in coverage. That makes Allen’s spot on the roster tenuous unless the Jaguars are willing to keep him as a special teams player.