Jaguars Mailbag: Five players most deserving of Pro Bowl nods? Sloppy wins still have merit?

This week's Jaguars Mailbag features questions about the Pro Bowl, ugly wins and more.

@JagsBethany asks: If you had to pick five Jaguars to make the Pro Bowl, but only those five, who would you pick?

Mike Kaye: Teams that make the playoffs and win their division typically have several players voted to the annual all-star "showcase."

The Jaguars should be no different. At 7-3, they are in the driver seat for their first playoff berth since 2007. The team is also in prime position to win the AFC South for the first time in franchise history.

I think the Jaguars will have at least five players in the Pro Bowl this postseason if they are not playing for a Super Bowl (wipes sweat off brow): cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, defensive ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, and linebacker Telvin Smith.

CB Jalen Ramsey: The second-year cornerback hasn't been targeted all that often this season. Still, he leads the Jaguars with 14 pass breakups and has two interceptions on the year. He has shut down the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Keenan Allen. 

CB A.J. Bouye: Tied for third in the league with four interceptions, Bouye has already set a new career-high for picks through 10 games. Along with Ramsey, he has formed the best cornerback duo in the league. 

DE Yannick Ngakoue: The second-year player leads the league with five forced fumbles and ranks sixth in the NFL with nine sacks. Ngakoue has also improved against the run in recent weeks and has shown the ability to create multiple plays were per game.

DE Calais Campbell: The veteran is tied for the league lead with 11.5 sacks this season. He posted a new career-high in sacks by Week 7. He is a legit NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate, as he has changed the Jaguars' defensive attack within a matter of months.

LB Telvin Smith: It's tough for 4-3 outside linebackers to make the Pro Bowl because they are unfairly looped in with 3-4 outside linebackers who put up huge sack numbers. Smith transcends his position, as he has as many interceptions (3) as any other linebacker in the league. He has also scored two defensive touchdowns on the season.

There are two other defensive players I'd consider on the Jaguars' roster for Pro Bowl nods.

I think free safety Tashaun Gipson has played much better than he did last season. He has made quite a few plays in coverage. The other player I would consider is defensive tackle Malik Jackson, who has played like an All-Pro since the bye week.

Running back Leonard Fournette is the lone offensive player I'd consider. I think he deserves the nod but the five defensive players I nominated have been making plays all year.

To vote for the Pro Bowl, click here.

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@IrishJag asks: Should the Jags reduce Leonard Fournette's workload until the playoffs?

MK: Fournette's right ankle seems to be a long-standing issue. He received 28 carries against the Browns and that seemed excessive, considering his pre-game questionable status.

Still, I'm not sure the Jaguars win that game without Fournette's 111 rushing yards or his overall presence. 

Fournette allows the Jaguars to move the ball even when their offensive line and passing game are struggling. If quarterback Blake Bortles is struggling, the Jaguars will lean on the running game, it's why they drafted Fournette in the first place.

The issue is that Fournette's right ankle is still clearly bothering him. Fournette has what I like to call a "confrontational style" to his game. Fournette welcomes and/or prefers contact when he's running the ball. That's a bad style to have when you're hobbled.

I don't think the answer is necessarily reducing his carries because they need him down the stretch. I think the Jaguars have to find a way to alter Fournette's approach to fit certain situations. He doesn't always have to smash into defenders or take on an extra hit before going out of bounds. I think he needs to pick and choose the times to welcome contact.

He had a run in the third quarter against the Browns where he did a spin move instead of running through a hole in the defense to pick up a first down. He would have probably picked up an extra three or four yards had he used his vision instead of his desire to make a guy miss or bounce off him.

Those plays add to the wear-and-tear and I'm not sure they are necessary all the time. 

 

Matt Thompson asks: Last week, we thought it was a good thing that the Jags "won sloppily." Do you think a second consecutive unconvincing win is a sign of trouble or still a step in the right direction? 

MK: I think adversity is good for a team trying to make a playoff push. A lot of playoff games deal with tough weather conditions due to the time of the year. This game wasn't against a playoff-caliber team, but the Jaguars willed their way through less-than-favorable conditions.

If it was a sunny day, the Jaguars win that game by 35 points in all likelihood. The weather and injuries to the offensive line made this game closer than it needed to be.

When everything is going against you - including no penalties for the opponent - and you win, that's a positive.

Follow Mike Kaye and ask him your Jaguars Mailbag questions on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

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