As NFL free agency ramps up, there have been plenty of surprises, like the Chargers adding to their busy offseason by signing premier cornerback J.C. Jackson, or the Jaguars going all-in with multiple high-profile deals. But arguably the biggest surprise of the first two days of legal tampering has been the Jaguars' reported decision to part ways with cornerstone linebacker Myles Jack.
In Chicago the immediate reaction to the news was, can the Bears sign him? The short answer to that question is, yes. But let’s take a look at why he could be a good fit for the team if they want to shell out the money to pair him alongside Roquan Smith.
The No. 1 thing Jack has working in his favor is his familiarity with the scheme Matt Eberflus will install. Last season the Jaguars played in a 3-4 base defense, but in the five years prior they deployed a 4-3 zone that was pretyy close to what Eberflus will run. In that defense, Jack primarily played as the middle linebacker, but he played a little strongside and weakside linebacker as well.
Against the run, Jack excels at making plays in his gap. He either shoots past would-be blockers, or is able to get off blocks enough to slow down the ball carrier, or stop them entirely. He’s serviceable in pass coverage as well, which is an important role for middle linebackers in a 4-3 zone defense. The Jaguars trusted Jack in pass coverage so much that sometimes they would even slide him out to cover receivers in the slot. If there are knocks against Jack, it’s that he sometimes bites too hard on play action fakes, allowing attackable space to develop behind him. If the ball is run away from him, he can be late to the play, too.
If the Bears determine that they want Smith to play middle linebacker, however, this pairing may not make as much sense. In that case, the team may pursue a linebacker with more experience playing on the weakside to fly to the ball alongside Smith. The team might also decide to spend more cash on another position, like cornerback or wide receiver. In that case, Ryan Poles could opt to find Smith’s partner in the draft.
In six seasons with the Jaguars, Jack has played in 88 games, starting 82 of them. He’s crossed the 100-tackle threshold three times, with 513 total tackles. In addition, he’s intercepted three passes, recovered four fumbles, and forced two fumbles.