Josh Allen resets Jaguars’ expectations after mishandled 2023 season

New Jaguars defensive lineman Arik Armstead welcomed his teammate, edge rusher Josh Allen, onto his “Third and Long” podcast Wednesday for over an hour, to discuss Jacksonville’s food scene, Allen’s football upbringing and time with the Jaguars, and among other topics relating to the team, what led to its collapse during the 2023 season.

The latter conversation was prompted by Armstrong asking Allen for his expectations for Jacksonville in 2024, leading the edge rusher to rekindle what was anticipated of the Jaguars last year.

After a run to the AFC Divisional Round in 2022-23, Jacksonville’s first playoff trip since 2017-18, the Jaguars began the 2023 season with an 8-3 record, at one point ripping off five victories in a row, only to finish 9-8 and miss out on postseason action.

“The expectation starts with how we handle our day-to-day. I think it starts there because, you know, for us, after [head coach] Doug’s [Pederson] first year, we set a very high expectation for us … that we thought we would just maintain,” Allen suggested.

“But then we hit a little bit of adversity and we kind of hit a wall. We didn’t know how to get out of that wall.”

The wall was in the form of four consecutive December losses. The impact was similar to that of a ton of bricks.

Allen pointed toward the team’s offseason free agency signings of veterans like Armstead, safety Darnell Savage and center Mitch Morse as examples of the Jaguars’ effort to bolster their roster with players equipped to handle adversity.

Each contributor has multiple seasons’ worth of playoff experience, with Armstead having played in two Super Bowls. Aside from winning it all, they’ve been to and done what the Jaguars aspire to accomplish.

But it will take more than new, yet seasoned faces to get the Jaguars to where they want to be. Some aspects of the approach remain to be determined.

“To be honest with you, brother, these are things that we, as a leadership group, need to still figure out,” Allen acknowledged.

Allen admitted that he was removed from his typical leadership responsibilities last season as he was without team captain status, unlike the three campaigns prior. He notably did not attend Jacksonville’s voluntary offseason team activities last year amid speculation about his contract status.

He’s since signed a five-year, $141.3 million extension with the club, in April. Whether he regains his former captainship role this season or not, Allen intends to be more involved in leading his teammates and having a better sense of their thought process moving forward.

He considers the notion last season to have been overconfidence, that the team mishandled their own expectations, leading to a deficit in confidence in one another.

“In my mind, I just think it was, I don’t know, thinking that we can win every game. We had the talent to compete against any and everybody,” Allen said. “I can’t make an excuse [for] why we lost. But I know that feeling that we went through, and it was very — you know, trust. I think we lost a lot of trust between each other.”

In order to return to postseason play, trust must be rebuilt across the organization, Allen proposed. It goes beyond the players and includes the coaching staff, with several new faces on the defensive side, including coordinator Ryan Nielsen.

“I think that’s one thing that we need to focus on this year, that togetherness. And that’s all phases of the game. First of all, that’s players because we play the game. It’s also coaches and players having trust within the coaches,” Allen stated. “Knowing that we can go to any of these coaches just as a group, honestly, like, ‘Hey, this is where we’re at, can we change this?’ Or can we modify, or can we find a trust and a balance between?

“Obviously, it’s a business and we understand that. But having that balance to go and build that trust within each other, and I do think it starts today. Every phase. Training camp, it’s a huge phase, but we’re battling every day. We’re competing, we’ve got to compete. But you know, I think it’s building that trust.”

Armstead understood where Allen was coming from, noting that the best teams he’s been on in his nine-year NFL career have also been the closest. They’ve had camaraderie and played with a purpose, for each other’s benefit.

He believes his pairing with Allen in Jacksonville will pay dividends in re-energizing the team and, ultimately, get the Jaguars back on track.

“Me and you are going to be a huge catalyst for that heading into this season. That’s something I’m excited about working on and building and getting turned around for us and our team,” Armstead told Allen.

“I’m really excited about this year. Looking at 2024 and this season coming up, obviously, our division is going to be tough. I think teams in the division got better, for sure. But I feel like we got a lot better, too.”

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire