Revenge factor: Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson can’t wait to get a shot at his former team.
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson couldn’t hold back his excitement about facing his former team for the first time Sunday in Jacksonville.
Jackson left the Broncos in free agency last winter for more money. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder is determined to play the spoiler role in Denver’s playoff pursuit. It’s personal.
“That’s the biggest thing I have to battle with, proving that I’m worth more than what they offered me and they shouldn’t have let me go,” Jackson said on a conference call Wednesday. “That’s my whole premise going out there and letting them know I’m a problem and you let this problem go, so now you have to deal with me.”
Jackson has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy season for the Jaguars (2-9). He has 4½ sacks, including two Sunday against Buffalo, and he has been a disruptive force along the line.
He still has friends on the Broncos, but his intensity level will be high Sunday.
“Malik loves to talk. He plays with that kind of attitude. It’s funny to me,” Broncos outside linebacker Shane Ray said. “We’re excited to see him, too. I’m sure our offense is going to try to put Malik in the ground with all the trash talk he did in one-on-one pass rush over the years.”
Jackson said he’s assuming a leadership role for a young, rebuilding team. The biggest transition for him has been dealing with the losing.
“It’s definitely tough, especially coming from Denver, being spoiled with the playoffs every year and a first-round bye,” Jackson said. “It’s kind of sobering because you realize every team isn’t winning 12 games a year. It brought me back down to earth.”
Jackson said he believed throughout the 2015 season that he would return to Denver, even after the Broncos signed defensive end Derek Wolfe to a four-year, $36.7 million extension in December. But Jackson said once he turned down the Broncos’ five-year, $53 million offer, he focused on free agency.
“The Broncos had a year, playoffs and Super Bowl to get a deal done and they waited,” said Jackson, who signed a six-year, $85.5 million contract, with $42 million guaranteed, in March. “So I wasn’t really worried about what they had to say, I was more open to the whole league.”
Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller, who signed his own big contract in July, added: “I knew what the market value was for Malik. It’s unfortunate he had to go somewhere else to get that, but I knew what our situation was.”
The Broncos’ run defense has struggled in Jackson’s absence, dropping from third overall in 2015 to 27th this season. Denver has relied on Jared Crick, Billy Winn and Adam Gotsis opposite Wolfe, with varying results.
“It’s made a pretty big difference,” Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “Malik is disruptive in the run and pass game. Malik is a unique player.”