JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – No more Calais Campbell. No sign of Yannick Ngakoue.
That doesn’t change anything for Josh Allen.
The second-year defensive end won’t have the help around him that he did last season, but the expectations — his expectations — have only increased.
“To be the best defensive player in the league. That’s high standards,” Allen said of his goals in 2020. “I had a high standard last year and I kind of achieved that goal. But now, I set the bar really high for myself and I’m looking to stay there and stay at the top and I’m going to push myself as much as I can push each year. This year I’m not holding anything back, I’m coming in as best as I can, the best version of me.”
Last year, Allen was a monster for the Jaguars.
Allen started just four games last season and still managed to set the Jaguars rookie record with 10.5 sacks and go to the Pro Bowl. He added 11 tackles for loss.
The change this year is a big one — no Campbell, no Ngakoue, no Marcell Dareus. Allen will be the man on the defensive line and he’s prepared to build off of what he did in 2019, even if the personnel around him has changed significantly.
Allen said that he’s worked hard in the offseason to be a “complete player,” and not just focus on getting to the quarterback. He wants to be better in run support and disrupting the offense and become a leader by example for players like rookie K’Lavon Chaisson, a first-round pick from LSU who is poised to see a large role, much like Allen did a year ago. If Ngakoue continues to hold out or the Jaguars trade him, the pressure on Chaisson to be an impact player as a rookie increases.
“I mean there ain’t no try, he has to [step up],” Allen said of Chaisson. “We try to bring in guys that are willing to compete and play from day one. He’s a guy that we look upon to play a big role this year. What I did last year is what I did last year and that’s something that could strive him to be better than me. I’m going to do as much as I can to help him get to that point. He’s a great guy, he’s a great football player, on and off the field.”
Allen said that he did consider the risks of playing this season during the COVID-19 pandemic, but his wife helped provide assurances during the process. Two Jaguars players, Lerentee McCray and Al Woods, have both opted-out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I would be lying to you if I said I didn’t [consider not playing]. Family is first. I don’t want to put my family in jeopardy of any harm that I bring to them,” he said.
“That was always something that I kept close to me. Kate, my wife, she really encouraged me to keep playing football this year because she knows what I’m striving for in my career. She’s really helpful, and she’s doing her best to keep the kids inside the house and keep them busy until I get home and I got to take over.”