After struggling in a home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, one would think there are multiple areas for improvement for the Jacksonville Jaguars defense. The only way to get better week to week is to learn from mistakes that took place and improve upon them. This process did not work in 2018 (5-11 record) and might be spilling over into 2019. A pattern that will not end well for a front office on the hot seat. Time to stop the leaking now before it snowballs into another wasted year.
The Jaguars defense must shift its focus from new contracts to shutting down opponents. There are two specific areas of improvement the defense needs to focus on heading into Sunday’s divisional showdown in Houston. Make no mistake, if these areas are not addressed by the coaching staff, the team will return home winless through two games in 2019.
Jacksonville Jaguars Defense Needs to Improve
Grow Up on Defense
Despite key losses during the offseason, the Jaguars defense entered the season full of high expectations. Hopeful to return to the form of 2017 that created the defensive unit’s self-proclaimed name of Sacksonville. However, last week the Chiefs dismantled the Jaguars’ defense for almost 500 yards and 40 points.
One would think that being on the receiving end of an offensive onslaught that yielded scoring drives on the first seven possessions would cause a sense of humility for the defense. It did not. Despite trailing the entire game, defensive players were flexing and taunting the Chiefs at the conclusion of plays. But why? The Chiefs could literally do anything they wanted offensively.
Now we have seen this behavior before and we have been perplexed. Last season in Nashville, Titans’ running back Derrick Henry ran wild over the Jaguars. Including an embarrassing 99-yard rumble down the sideline with a couple of sidearms along the way. Late in the game with the Titans leading and on cruise control, the Jaguars defense celebrated a fourth-down stop like it was pivotal in the game. An absolute embarrassment on national television. A disgrace to fans of the game, not just Jacksonville.
The lack of maturity is apparent on the team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The unit needs others besides defensive end Calais Campbell display leadership and humility. This a must that needs to be addressed by defensive coordinator Todd Wash immediately. The unit needs to cease trying to intimidate with words and focus on their performance. Act like you have been there before. Stop with the selfish showboating on and off the field (armored trucks). Get back to being a team instead of the name on the back of your jersey. Maybe then you will have something to celebrate.
Dominate the Line of Scrimmage
On paper, the Jaguars’ front four is imposing. In fact, in the eyes of many, it is the strength of the defense. However, there are some missing parts from that dominant 2017 unit. Was that the reason behind the lack of sacks on Sunday? Hard to pinpoint, as the unit did record around 15 quarterback pressures. But the lack of finishing a play with a sack, allowed him to survey the field and find open receivers. This must change against Houston.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is another game-changer single caller the front four prepares to face. His mobility is less of a concern these days, but he can still take over a game with his right arm. Entering the game, the Jaguars’ front four has two advantages they must capitalize on. One is the Texans’ lackluster offensive line. Next is Watson’s tendency to hold on to the ball too long, waiting for a play to develop. All of these were factors in 2018 as Watson was sacked 65 times.
So far the script has not changed in 2019, as New Orleans brought Watson down six times on Monday. Getting after Watson is paramount for the defense on Sunday. Not just pressures, but sacks. The longer he has to survey the field and find his receivers puts pressure on the Jaguars young secondary. The front four needs to attack the edges and the middle of the line of scrimmage with reckless abandon to keep Watson uncomfortable. Replicating the unit’s 2017 performance in Houston (10 sacks) is a bit much to ask for. But something close to that is not out of the question. The Jaguars front four has to prove that they are more than projections on paper.
Jacksonville Jaguars Defense Running Out of Time
The Jaguars defense needs to stop the shenanigans and look itself in the mirror. Stop listening and reading about how “great” they are. They did not show it against the Chiefs. But there’s still time to get back on track. Turn the quarterback pressures into sacks on Sunday. Reincarnate Sacksonville for the fans, without boasting about it. That’s the fans job.
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