What’s Next: Defense Returns To Dominance

It’s getting so bad I’m having dreams about Daryl Smith starting at linebacker for the Jags.  Fortunately those dreams will be coming to an end.  With the return of George Selvie, Austen Lane, and John Chick this team has begun to climb out of the  hole that they had dug for themselves.  Last year’s defense was an impressive unit with slight problems.  This year’s defense has been injured and underwhelming.

Yet the unit is on the rise.

Since the bye week the Jaguars defense has been stout against the run and has shut down Aaron Rodgers.  Further, they have racked up four sacks (two for Jeremy Mincey) in the past two games.  That’s more than half of the sacks (7) they have had on the season.  Last week against Aaron Rodgers and using a depleted secondary the Jaguars were able to limit Rodgers to a meager 186 yards while limiting the running game to under 70 yards total.  The Jaguars had yet to limit the opposition to under 100 yards on the ground until the Raiders game two weeks ago.

This unit is finding its groove at the right time for the Jaguars.

Matt Stafford is a gunslinging quarterback who could hurt the Jaguars this next week, but if the unit continues to gel tehy may be able to bottle up the runners and force Stafford into some ill-advised throws.  This could get good for the Jaguars defense.  Of course this is all speculation but you can’t deny the high the team has been on the past two weeks.

This week could be a return to dominance for the Jaguars defense. The pass rush and good containment when rushing has contributed to two decent outing for the Jaguars D.  If they can do it again it will go a long way toward promoting more success in the second half of the season.

- Luke N. Sims

Topics: Austen Lane, George Selvie, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jeremy Mincey

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  • http://www.facebook.com/keenan.jones.1806 Keenan Jones

    I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s a good reason that the defense hasn’t been as dominant this year as it was at the beginning of last year. Before I get to why I believe that is, I want to point out that I’ve noticed that a poor start to the season doesn’t bode well for you finishing the season highly in statistical categories and vice versa. As an example, our strong defensive start last season is the reason we finished as the 6th overall defense, as late in the year, as the injuries started to mount, we didn’t perform that well. At one point, we were the 3rd ranked defense (or so I believe), but finished 6th due to the poor outings at the end of the year. We were 31st at one point this year, so I think we’re going to have to use the eyeball test to decide how well the defense it’s up being instead of the using the stats.

    Now to why I think the defense is just returning to last years form. As you pointed out, the loss of D. Smith has a lot to do with it, but it’s more to it than that I believe. It really comes down to the loss of two players for me. Them being Matt Roth and Clint Session. They were replaced with Andre Branch and Russell Allen respectively. The reason I think that comes into play so much is because of how much it hurt the run defense. Simply put, this defense, as is any defense really, is predicated on stopping the run to lead up to it rushing the passer. The loss of Roth and Session hurt our run defense drastically, which led to us being in some poor down and distance situations, which in turn has led to us having a hard time gettin off the field on 3rd downs, which happened to be a key strength of last years defense. With the loss of Session, we lost a formidable run defender, pass rusher and a his experience with the replacement of Allen. As to the Roth and Branch swap, we lost Roth’s experience (which trumps Branch’s mightedly) and his ability to set the edge, another key component of our run defense. While Branch is much more naturally talented, it’s not enough just yet to compensate for the things that Roth brought to the table. Fortunately, the return of Austen Lane and George Selvie has made up for the loss of Roth with their ability to be stout agains the run. It also put Branch into the DPR role where he is currently most valuable. I don’t see Branch as the three down defensive linemen how he was being used at the start of the year.

    Another fortunate turn for us is the return of John Chick. With his return, not only do we have additonal depth on the d-line, but another pass rusher too. The depth of the line is where the strength of the defense lies right now. It has to be with the loss of Smith and Session, as we are now dependent more than ever on our front four to hit home when rushing the passer, as we don’t have that luxury of rushing 5 or 6 because we don’t have the personnel to do so any longer. Although I do think coach Tucker should consider giving Julian Stanford some opportunities to get in on the rush and see how effecively he could be at it, because he did play some defensive end in college and his athletic ability is off the charts, so the potential is there.

    Overall though, I agree with the premise of this article about the defense returning to dominance, just with another method of success than the one that was used last season.

    • http://www.facebook.com/keenan.jones.1806 Keenan Jones

      Oh yeah, something I left out. Ross getting acclimated to the defense and playing up to his abilities, the surprising play of Mike Harris and development of Prosinski are all things that will be key factors to the defense getting back to it’s dominant ways of last year. Harris playing well elimates the loss of Drew Coleman, who was key when we were in nickle, in run defense and pass coverage, and also made some key plays. Something that Harris is showing that he will be able to do also. I’m hoping that Cox can come back and stay healthy (asking for a lot, I know), Ross can replace Mathis and Harris continues to develop in the NB role. That would give us a nice starting lineup of corners to take into games. That just leaves Stanford to continue to develop to fill the huge shoes left to fill that was left with D. Smith’s injury. We all knew Bosworth was never going to get anything close to doing so.

    • LukeNSims

      I absolutely agree about the Matt Roth stuff. I liked his play with the Jags and was rather surprised when they didn’t keep him around. I was also surprised about Coleman. Sometimes the desire to “go young” trumps experience however. We’ll simply have to hope that the develop quickly. I’m seeing Mike Harris develop faster than Andre Branch right now though. Branch could be good, but for some reason I’m just not seeing the kind of aggressive play I like out of defensive ends. Sometimes it’s there and other times he is more lost than anyone else on the field.