“Just watching him in OTAs and stuff, he’s got a cannon for an arm, and he’s huge. He looks like a tight end. I was eating breakfast one morning beside him, and he was so big, I didn’t know it was him, because everybody had their masks on. Then, somebody said something to him, and I’m like, ‘Damn. This dude is huge!’ You would think that he’s been in this locker room for about seven years,” said Leonard, via Doug Farrar of TouchdownWire. “He has this presence about him and his leadership role, and that’s what you need in a quarterback room. We have a great offensive line that’s going to protect him. We have the best backfield in the NFL, in my opinion, and we have these great skill guys on the outside. He came into a perfect place to have success. We believe in him. We know who he is, and we know what he can be. I can’t wait to see what he and [head] Coach Frank [Reich] are going to step up and do.”
Leonard had high praise of Colts DC Matt Eberflus and expects the coordinator to earn consideration for head coaching vacancies in the near future.
“Do I see him as a head coach? No question. I’m surprised he’s still a defensive coordinator now, because of how smart he is and how well he understands the game. After my rookie season, I thought he was gone, and each year, after the season, he’s having these head coaching interviews. I do see him as a head coach, and I do think he will succeed as a head coach. For me personally — it might sound a little selfish, but [Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker] Derrick Brooks had the same defensive coordinator his whole career [Monte Kiffin, from 1996 through 2008; Rusty Tillman was Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator in 1995], and he played very well in that two-high scheme. Hopefully, I can have him my whole career, because I think it’s why I keep getting better. When you’re in the same system for so long, you understand it. You understand how people are trying to attack you. I wish him the best, but I hope he stays here.”
Leonard believes the Colts must show more defensive consistency in order to contend for a Super Bowl.
“Be consistent. When you look at the games we lost, it’s nothing our opponents did — it’s everything we did. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, when there’s a bust or you jump offside — things like that. You can’t have that. If you want to be a Super Bowl contender, you cannot shoot yourself in the foot. We have to be more disciplined, trust in the game plan, play 110% every single play, and find ways to take the ball away. We want to be the No. 1 hustling team. We want to be the No. 1 takeaway defense. We want to be the No. 1 defense. And if we want to do that, that’s what’s going to help us win the Super Bowl, the division, everything we have to do.”
Jaguars DC Joe Cullen said he thinks everyone on the defensive line can double their sack total this season.
“… We have a really good group of defensive linemen that were here, K’Lavon [Chaisson], Josh [Allen] had 10.5 sacks [in 2019],” Cullen said, via Jaguars Wire. “Then the free agent acquisitions we were able to bring in, Roy Robertson-Harris, Jihad Ward, those guys have gotten after the quarterback in this league. I’m excited to work with Taven [Bryan], bringing Malcom Brown here.
“We have a good group and the two young guys that we brought in via the draft. We’re excited and I’ll tell you it’s going to come from a lot of different area. It’s going to come from the pressure that we bring in terms of blitzes, it’s going to come from a four-man rush, and really, it’s going to come from a collective unit defensively, our rush work, but also our coverage being able to make the quarterback hold the ball. It’s going to go hand in hand but I’m excited and really, we’ll find out in the fall.”
“I think in this system here, I think he’s going to rise up and I think he’s going to do some good things for us because this defense is simple, but it’s fast and it allows you to play football,” Jackson said, via Texans Wire. “That’s what we try to instill in our players is that we’re not going to make anything difficult for you. We’re going to try to make it as simple as possible and we’re going to allow you play football. I think that’s what you see in Justin when you watch the tape, is that he’s going to improve.”