Jason Rebrovich is in his third year as the defensive line coach for the Jaguars, his first year with the team coming as Doug Marrone was hired as the head coach. He helped turn an already good defensive unit into a dominant force in the NFL. In his first year, the Jaguars had 55 total sacks, 45.5 of which belonged to the defensive line. With his coaching, defensive end Calais Campbell registered 14.5 sacks and was in the running for defensive player of the year.
The 2018 season was a disappointing season for the Jaguars and production dropped across all areas of the team, including the defensive line. Jacksonville's sack total dropped from 55 to 37, and the defensive line accounted for 31 sacks, down from the 45.5 the prior year.
This year offers new challenges. Linebacker Telvin Smith abruptly announced that he would be sitting out for the year in the middle of the offseason and leaving the Jaguars shorthanded on defense. Asked about the pressure Smith’s departure adds to the defensive line, Rebrovich stated “It comes with some pressure, you know, you’re losing a leader. Telvin Smith, he was really a big heartbeat for this defense…we look for our d-line, with the amount of veterans that we have, to come up and step up to be the leaders of this team and this defense.”
Another challenge is the progression of second year defensive tackle Taven Bryan, who struggled to find his place on a defensive line that featured Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, Calais Campbell, Dante Fowler Jr. and Marcell Dareus. He was complimentary of Bryan when asked about how Bryan has grown from year one to year two. “Immensly. He’s a physically, strong, gifted man. But mentally, his process and how he’s been learning this defense…There’s just been an unbelievable change with the young man, and we’re looking for a lot of big things for him this year.”
Of course, the contract situation with Ngakoue did not make anything easier prior to his return to the team. “Well, you’re going to miss a dominant player like Yan, you know, but you have to go through the process and get the new guys involved to play in that position and get them coached up,” Rebrovich said when asked about how Ngakoue’s absence at the start of camp changed the way he approached coaching the unit. “It gives them more opportunities to go out there and play…it’s a hard adjustment, but again our guys have been very, very receptive of the next guy up stepping up in there, making plays, and we’re looking forward to getting him back.”
The Jaguars are looking to bounce back this season, and the defensive line will need to anchor the defense for the Jaguars to have success. Hear my entire exclusive interview with Jason Rebrovich, including his impressions of first round draft pick Josh Allen and Nick Foles’ impact on the defensive line, below.