Josh Allen feels a sense of “rejuvenation” with new coach, position change

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Tyler Nettuno
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It was a disappointing season in 2020 for everyone on Jacksonville’s roster, but perhaps no one would like to put it behind him more than Josh Allen. After totaling 10.5 sacks as a rookie in 2019, he was limited to just eight games with injuries and managed just 2.5 sacks last year.

However, with the new coaching staff in town, Allen said he feels “rejuvenated”, according to a report from ESPN’s Mike DiRocco — both by the energy head coach Urban Meyer brings to the table and by the position change brought about by the new defensive system.

“It’s just a different environment, different vibe, like I just feel about this team and this year and this coaching staff,” Allen said. “It’s just I feel like I really haven’t felt this passion and this driven [since] I first got here. When I first got here I was all-in, I was ready, and then stepping back to this year, man, it’s just another … rejuvenation.”

Though Allen didn’t have any firsthand experience with Meyer before he was hired, he was well aware of his reputation at the college ranks. He said the two quickly got along, and Meyer has done a good job building connections throughout the team.

“The name has always stood out as one of the best coaches in college football in recent years, for him being at Ohio State and him coaching at Florida,” Allen said. “So … I always knew who he was and just having him as a coach, realizing he’s about to be my next head coach, it was kind of surreal for a little moment.

“When I did meet him it was like we took two or three days to get familiar with each other and now I feel like I’ve known him over a year or two years now. We’re building a connection and it’s not just with me. He’s building a connection with everybody throughout the locker room and throughout the building just in general.”

With Meyer comes a new defensive scheme. Allen managed to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie despite playing out of position under previous defensive coordinator Todd Wash, but the problems became much more apparent in 2020. In college at Kentucky, he played primarily as a 3-4 outside linebacker as opposed to the 4-3 down lineman spot he’s been playing so far in Jacksonville.

New defensive coordinator Joe Cullen has discussed the Jaguars’ scheme, saying the team will run a “hybrid” front that shows multiple looks but will include more 3-4 than in the past. Allen said he was thrilled to hear of the change.

“I was screaming it to my wife when we found out [the Jaguars were switching to a 3-4],” Allen said. “That’s the reason why I’m here [in the NFL] and then transitioning to play defensive end my first and second year was a transition, but it was a transition that I was willing to make and that I had to make and that I felt like I could make at the time.

“But now being able to go back to those roots that really got me here, I can really get more swag out there. In my terms, I feel like I have more swag. I feel like I can move around more. I feel like I can be more active in the front.”

Jacksonville will hope Allen, who it selected with the seventh overall pick two years ago, can return to the level of play he demonstrated during his rookie season with the new staff. And if he’s really more comfortable as a 3-4 linebacker, perhaps he could surpass it.