Jaguars Friday Update: Duplicate Josh Allens, Rudy Ford's New Role and Meyer's Thoughts on Buffalo – Sports Illustrated Leave a comment

In this week’s Friday update on the Jaguars, we take a look at what the Jaguars are saying on Josh Allen, Rudy Ford’s new role, and much more.
The 1-6 Jacksonville Jaguars will get the ultimate measuring stick game this Sunday, hosting the 5-2 Buffalo Bills at TIAA Bank Field as the two seasons move in dramatically different directions.
For the Bills, Sunday is a game against an opponent they will attempt to not overlook. For the Jaguars, it is a chance to show the entire league that the Jaguars' rebuild isn't quite as far off as Jacksonville's record suggests.
And when it comes to deciding which team comes out victorious, look no further than Josh Allen — either one.
For the Bills, their hopes will rely on the right arm of quarterback Josh Allen, their first-round pick in 2018.
For the Jaguars, they will need their own Josh Allen — the No. 7 overall pick in 2019 — to step up on the defensive side of the ball and slow down his partner in namesake.
"You know, yeah. I mean, like I said, I’m just looking forward to playing against this team and then looking forward to playing against him. He’s been playing at a high level of recent," Jacksonville's Josh Allen said on Wednesday. "He’s been evading sacks recently, he’s been getting out of the pocket, his O-line does a really good job of protecting him. I love this challenge. We’re going to get after them but we have to do it early and throughout the whole game.”
The matchup isn't the first time two players with the same name will face off in NFL history, but it is at last a matchup between two of the NFL's top young offensive and defensive players. For years, the two have been tied together in social media posts and name searches. Now, they will at last share the field, and Josh Allen will have a chance to conquer Josh Allen.
"He’s a young, mobile quarterback and he has a big arm. I’m not surprised at all. His team has been playing really well, he’s been dropping crazy numbers. So, I’m not surprised and that’s one thing I know out of that, as a defensive mind, ball security," Jacksonville's Josh Allen said.
"So, if you want to make those plays, just know we’ve got guys coming for that ball. So, jump, do whatever you want to do, we’ve got guys coming for that ball. That’s our mindsets, but that’s not taking anything away from him and the plays that he has made. But we’re coming.”
But don't expect for Sunday to be the last time the two Josh Allens are tied together. Each is off to a strong start this season and is expected to be a key piece of their team's rebuild.
And, after all, no result on Sunday will stop Jacksonville's Josh Allen from potentially getting his Buffalo counterpart's mail as each continues their long and productive careers.
"I actually got an email that was something—I’m not going to tell his business out there—but I got an email for him and I was like, ‘Oh yeah!’ Then, I looked at it and I was like, ‘I don’t think this was for me.’ So, that was all the hiccup I got, outside of just fans or whatever. So, I thought that was pretty cool," Allen laughed this week.
One big part of Jacksonville's defense to watch this week is the slot position. The Jaguars likely won't be in their base defense very often against the Bills, who Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer called a pure spread offense. One of the biggest pieces of the Bills' offense is slot receiver Cole Beasley, and the Jaguars experimented more with having backup safety Rudy Ford cover the slot in Week 8 as opposed to Tre Herndon.
“Yeah, Rudy Ford has been one of our most productive players. He’s fast and he’s aggressive," Meyer said on Wednesday. He’s one of the best special teams players I’ve ever seen. We need his speed and Tre [Herndon] is still battling a little bit with that knee. So, he’s earned that and he’ll play more.”
Ford said this week that he hasn't played slot cornerback since he did so in college five years ago, but he is willing to attack any role the defense asks of him. Ford entered the organization as a core special teamer but then became a key part of the team's dime packages, and is now moving into an even bigger coverage role.
"Yeah, my mindset is just to go and help, you know, I'm saying just to help our team. My mindset is keep going out, play at a high level and to go in anywhere the team asks and make sure I'm there to help our team, you know, to keep building this team and to keep helping us continue to try to elevate each and every week," Ford told Jaguar Report after Practice on Thursday. "That's kind of my mindset is how can I become better, how can we become better as an organization? You know, that is everything, that's kind of my mindset"
One Jaguars defender who has a good amount of experience defending Buffalo's Josh Allen? Inside linebacker Damien Wilson, who started two games against Allen during his stellar 2020 campaign. Wilson was then with the Kansas City Chiefs as they geared up for another Super Bowl run, giving him valuable insight into how to potentially slow down the rare quarterback.
"The play is never over, man. They are never out of it," Wilson told Jaguar Report on Friday.
"And he's such a big strong guy, even when you think you got him and he's going down, he might not be, so you just got to finish everything till completion. That's the motto with that guy. Finish everything to completion."
Do the Jaguars have a drop problem on offense? That likely depends on who you ask. The numbers show the Jaguars aren't exactly perfect when it comes to drops, with Sports Info Solutions ranking the Jaguars tied for No. 10 in drops this year with 15. Nine of these drops have come on third-down, which leads the entire NFL despite the Jaguars already having their bye week.
But for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, the drops aren't a huge issue holding back the offense. Bevell credited the offense with two drops against the Seahawks and noted that it is more of a rare occurrence than a common one, especially since one of those drops came from Marvin Jones, who is the Jaguars' best and most sure-handed receiver.
“Yeah, I think we had two drops in that game. Marvin [Jones Jr.] had one, I think that was a big drop, it would have given us a third-down conversion. It was actually a long yardage one. And then T-Billy, Tyron Johnson, dropped the one on the sideline after he got hit," Bevell said on Thursday. "I don’t get too concerned with it a lot of times, unless it becomes an epidemic about it. But they are going to happen, but we’ll try to minimize it as much as we can. I mean, Marvin has been a very sure-handed guy for us, so I don’t see that being a problem.”
The lack of production from the Jaguars' 2021 draft class has been glaring. No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence has, of course, played every offensive snap, but other than that the Jaguars have gotten the following results from their draft picks.
In sort, the Jaguars have seen their rookie class do very little and so far there haven't been any signs of this changing. With that in mind, defensive coordinator Joe Cullen made it clear the defense isn't far from getting one of those rookies on the field in the form of fourth-round edge rusher Jordan Smith. Smith hasn't played a single snap and hasn't even been active for a game this season, but Cullen said on Thursday that his trajectory is moving in the right direction.
“I’ll tell you, he’s getting better every week. Just keep getting better. I’ve had a lot of guys over the years who [you’ve drafted] that your deep at a position, you just have to keep getting better," Cullen said. When your number is called because it’s going to be called during the year, you just have to be ready. He’s really practicing better and doing some great things in the one-on-ones.”
“I think when you look at that, it’s like is he better than the guy he’s playing behind? Like I said, there’ll be a point in the season where he’ll have to play. He’ll have to play. We did it with Jaylon Ferguson in Baltimore. He didn’t have a [helmet] for six weeks because he wasn’t better than the guys in front of him. Then all of a sudden, [he’s playing]. Jordan [Smith]’s going [in a positive direction]. All of a sudden, someone goes down and [Jaylen] was starting seven straight weeks on a playoff run.”
It has been made clear this week how much respect Urban Meyer and his staff have for the Buffalo Bills. Buffalo is not only one of the AFC's best teams, but they are an example of a rebuild gone right, with talented players at every single level of their roster despite them finishing in third place of the division and below .500 just three years ago.
"It’s no secret that this team has been built the right way, they’ve done an excellent job. I think we talked about it earlier in the week, all three levels of offense and defense are very well put together. Maybe the most complete team I’ve seen on film so far," Meyer said on Friday.
But what is it exactly about the Bills' rebuild that has impressed Meyer? Ultimately it boils down to how the Bills have acquired talent. They have added big names through the free agency and trades at times, but their lifeblood has been the NFL Draft.
"Well, that’s what Trent [Baalke] and I are talking about. Some people try to build by free agency, some people try to build by draft, obviously that’s the best way to do it, historically," Meyer said. "The best teams are the ones that take care of their own and spot some free agents. We have got to keep building in the draft and spotting some free agents.”

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