Late-season surge has Jaguars’ Allen looking dominant again

Jan 11, 2023, 12:56 PM | Updated: Jan 12, 2023, 7:35 am
Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) returns a fumble for a touchdown in the second half...

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) returns a fumble for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

              Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) celebrates with teammates after returning a fumble for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
            
              Tennessee Titans quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) passes under pressure from Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) and defensive end Arden Key (49) in the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
            
              Tennessee Titans quarterback Joshua Dobbs (11) fumbles as he is hit by Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen in the second half of an NFL football game, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
            
              Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) returns a fumble for a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Josh Allen was the last player off Jacksonville’s practice field Wednesday. The fourth-year pro spent extra time working through pass-rush drills and then a few more minutes chatting with a coach — an offensive coach.

Allen has started getting technique tips from Jaguars assistant offensive line coach Todd Washington. The recent tweak may have aided in Allen’s late-season surge.

The Jacksonville linebacker has 23 quarterback pressures in his last five games. He also returned a fumble 37 yards for a touchdown in the closing minutes to beat Tennessee 20-16 last Saturday and secure the franchise’s second AFC South championship.

It was just the latest game-altering play for Allen, who has half his six sacks during Jacksonville’s five-game winning streak and was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday. He’s essentially been the dominant force the Jaguars (9-8) thought they had when they drafted him with the seventh overall pick four years ago and watched him make the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

Allen had been admittedly disappointing since, even going eight consecutive games this season without a sack. But he’s taken his play to another level since mid-December, and the Jaguars are counting on him to continue his hot streak when they host the Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) in a wild-card game Saturday night.

“We’re ready to take over,” Allen said. “We’re not in (the playoffs) for no reason. We worked our butts off to get to this point.”

Allen maybe as much as anyone.

He was seemingly slow to adjust to the team’s new 3-4 defensive scheme, one that sometimes requires him to drop into coverage. It was a somewhat uncomfortable spot even though it was role he handled well in college at Kentucky.

But Allen looked right at home off the ball against the Titans, especially when he scooped up Joshua Dobbs’ fumble in full stride and went untouched the other way for the go-ahead score. He added a strip-sack on the ensuing possession that helped Jacksonville close it out.

“I think it’s just being patient,” Allen said. “I’ve always worked hard. It’s just letting those opportunities come. I’ve been dialed in with myself a little bit more. …

“Me working hard before and after practice and doing what I need to do and being where I need to be. I knew when the moment comes, when the opportunity comes, if I keep at it, good things are going to come.”

Although Allen’s sack totals are down, his 64 quarterback pressures this season rank fourth in the NFL, according to the league’s Next Gen stats. More than a third of those have come in the last five weeks.

“I think it’s Josh. He’s made his mind up that it’s the time of the season for him to turn it on, and he’s turned it on,” defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell said. “He’s picked his game up, and he’s doing a good job for us.”

The O-line assistant might deserve an assist. Allen approached Washington last month and started asking a series of questions about how to approach trying to beat certain offensive tackles.

“Really just getting an extra set of ears, extra set of eyes, extra input,” Allen said. “Just to hear something different. … He kind of helped me find myself, just talking to me, sitting down, writing down, just casual conversation that I have with him, and we get things going.”

Allen and his fellow defenders have things going right now. The Jaguars have allowed a combined 22 points in their last three games and essentially won two games with takeaways: Rayshawn Jenkins’ interception return for a TD to beat Dallas in overtime and then Jenkins’ strip-sack that led to Allen’s scoop-and-score against the Titans.

“You have to find a way to win, and right now we’re finding multiple ways to win,” Allen said.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece reacts after winning a point against Karen Khachanov of Russia during ...
Associated Press

Tsitsipas beats Khachanov to reach 1st Australian Open final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Stefanos Tsitsipas had a harder time strictly following all of the rules than he did outplaying his opponent in the early going, then recovered after blowing two match points late in the third set, and eventually reached the final at the Australian Open for the first time by beating Karen Khachanov […]
24 hours ago
The parents of Novak Djokovic of Serbia, father Srdjan and mother Dijana react during his post matc...
Associated Press

Djokovic’s dad to stay away from Australian Open semifinal

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic’s father decided to stay away from the 21-time Grand Slam champion’s semifinal after getting embroiled in a flap involving spectators who brought banned Russian flags to Melbourne Park, Tennis Australia said Friday. In a release e-mailed to reporters about 2 1/2 hours before Djokovic was scheduled to face Tommy […]
24 hours ago
Los Angeles Clippers guard Amir Coffey (7) shoots against San Antonio Spurs center Gorgui Dieng (41...
Associated Press

Clippers extend win streak to 4 with 138-100 rout of Spurs

LOS ANGELES (AP) — If anyone needed any proof of how confident Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers are feeling, it came late in the second quarter of their game against the San Antonio Spurs. George stole the ball from Zach Collins after a bad pass by Stanley Johnson, dribbled down the court and […]
24 hours ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) celebrates a three pointer against the Phoenix Suns d...
Associated Press

Dinwiddie scores 36, Mavs top Suns 99-95 after Doncic hurt

PHOENIX (AP) — Luka Doncic’s early injury on Thursday night gave the Dallas Mavericks a very valid reason to lose on the road. Instead, Spencer Dinwiddie responded to the adversity with a season-high 36 points, Dorian Finney-Smith added 18 points and 12 rebounds, and the Mavs held on for a 99-95 victory over the Phoenix […]
24 hours ago
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Jack Johnson, right, battles for the puck with Calgary Flames forward...
Associated Press

Stauber wins again, Blackhawks beat Flames 5-1

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Two games into his NHL career, Blackhawks rookie goaltender Jaxson Stauber is playing like a poised veteran. Stauber stopped 34 shots for his second consecutive win and 13 players contributed a point as Chicago beat the Calgary Flames 5-1 Thursday night. “Looks really solid and calm in there,” Blackhawks coach Luke […]
24 hours ago
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus celebrates after defeating Magda Linette of Poland during their semifina...
Associated Press

Rybakina meets Sabalenka in Australian Open women’s final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Aryna Sabalenka figures she’ll feel some jitters when she steps out on court to face Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open women’s final. Saturday’s contest is, after all, Sabalenka’s first singles title match at a Grand Slam tournament. Rybakina is more familiar with this stage: She won Wimbledon a little more […]
24 hours ago
Late-season surge has Jaguars’ Allen looking dominant again