2009 Jaguar Defense showed the effect of neglect
By Terry OBrien
The Jaguar Defense across the Years
Hemingway once wrote that a man goes broke “slowly, then all at once.” That is the story of the Jaguars defense. Well, it could be the story of the Jaguars in general, but this is a story about the defense.
I did a statistical study one time in which I averaged the yards allowed by the defense when a team won and then the average yards allowed by the defense when the team lost. I did this for every game over a 3 year period. Teams that win allow an average of 300 yards. Teams that lose allow an average of 330 yards. Based on this, I consider a teams defense to be Championship quality when they allow an average of 300 yards or less.
Based on yards allowed (and QB sacks), this was the worst performance of the a Jaguar defense since inception. But you already know that. As you can see from the chart, they went broke slowly then all at once.
2005 was a playoff year, but 2006 was the team Jack should have taken to the AFC Championship. No team, other than the 1999 team could dominate like they could.
The Defensive Line had Bobby McCray with a 10 sack season and Paul Spicer with a 7.5 sack season. Henderson and Stroud combined for 6 more sacks and John Henderson had 51 combined tackles. Sugar Bear Hamilton was the defensive line coach with 20 NFL years experience.
The backfield had Donovin Darius returning from injury. Deon Grant had 60 tackles. Brian Williams with 55 tackles and 9 passes defended and Rashean Mathis with 8 interceptions and 12 passes defended. Gerald Sensabaugh, in his second year, had 2 interceptions and 44 tackles. Alvin Reynolds was the defensive backfield coach with 14 years NFL experience.
Deon Grant was not resigned and left in free agency after the 2006 season. Bobby McCray asked for a lot of money and was let go after the 2007 season. Gerald Sensabaugh was to be his replacement but was not offered a contract after the 2008 season. Donovin Darius never returned to form from his injury. Paul Spicer got too old to be effective and was let go after the 2008 season. Marcus Stroud was sold to Buffalo after the 2007 season for a third round draft choice which the team traded away so they could trade up to draft Derrick Harvey. Brian Williams was let go to start the 2009 season. Alvin Reynolds and Sugar Bear Hamilton joined Mike Smith in Atlanta after the 2007 season. No starters except John Henderson and Rashean Mathis are left from the 2006 season. .
No one drafted in 2006 made an impact on defense. Reggie Nelson was drafted in 2007 to replace Deon Grant. No one else drafted in 2007 made an impact on defense. Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves were drafted in 2008. The team was considered so strong that no one below the second round was considered worthy to make the team. Drayton Florence was signed in 2008. In every case, the person leaving was not replaced with equal or better quality. Slowly, player by player, cut by cut, the team went broke on defense.
This is what Wayne Weaver apologized for letting go on for so long. The Jaguars lived off of the memory of 2006 and not the reality of the future coming in 2009.
It is time to come to the point. Three years of little to no investment took three years to show up and it will be hard to recover in one year. Finding success in the draft is harder than finding failure. For the Jaguar defense to return to 2006 form, people we haven’t met yet have to show up and those we have met have to get better. This was not Jack’s fault and in my opinion, he coached one hell of a year. With the worst defense in Jaguar history, we sniffed the playoffs. That is why Wayne believes in him. With Gene Smith, we stopped going broke. Maybe, just maybe, with the both of them on the same page, there is reason to hope in 2010.
– Terry O’Brien