Becoming An Elite Defense: Mike, Sam and Will
Many teams have experimented or have switched to a base 3-4 defense; including the Jaguars in the Gregg Williams days of 2008. While switching, player personnel must be heavily considered due to the different type of talent needed to fulfill the scheme. Experimentation, and a terrible draft that no longer exists, led to failure, and the Jaguars have stuck with what they know under current defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
For the past eight years, Daryl Smith has anchored the defense with consistent play. Playing both outside and inside in his career, Smith is one of the lesser known versatile players that has made plays for the Jaguars year after year. As stated in an article by Football Outsiders.com, Smith was the best in “Defeats” in 2010, topping play makers like DeMarcus Ware and Ray Lewis. Smith is both underrated and unknown because he plays for a small market team and lacks the chances to rack up sacks like his 3-4 counterparts. He needs to step up and account for more defeats this season by recording more turnovers. With his supporting cast now a year together, their play will allow him to reach a higher level.
Posluszny or “Poz”, had Jaguars fans rejoicing when he joined the team this past season. Being miscast in the Buffalo Bills 3-4 defense, Poz wanted to pursue a team in a 4-3 to play at his highest level. The Jaguars came knocking aggressively as they desperately needed a new Mike, which would allow Smith to play to his strengths on the outside. Poz lead the team in tackles, but struggled at times in pass protection, his only knock when signing as a Jag. In the modern day NFL, linebackers are being asked to be more athletic to keep up with faster Tight Ends and play solid zone coverage. Poz is a classic MLB who would thrive in years past when the passing game was still developing. Being a three down player, Poz will need to improve his coverage for the upcoming season.
Another piece added with Poz was Clint Session off of the Colts. Session was excited to play for a team with more beef on the front lines, referring to Defensive Tackles Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu. Session hasn’t played a complete season since 2008, which was his biggest concern for him during free agency. He played nine games this past season, being marred by concussions, with his second ending his season. Session was a bit of a gamble of a free agent, and may prove useful if healthy, but newly extended Russell Allen may end up replacing the injury plagued Session.
Russell Allen has been a career backup with a promising future as a Jaguar. He recently resigned for recording three turnovers, (1 interception and 2 forced fumbles), as well as half a sack replacing the injured Session. If Session or one the other LB’s cannot stay healthy, Allen will be a great plug in.
The final player to round out this list is “The Real” Brandon Marshall. Marshall will most likely play a special teams role unless lightning strikes twice and the Jaguars have more players on injured reserve than the active roster.
If the Jaguars are to enter top 5 contention and elite status, all players must work on their own issues, weather it be recording more turnovers, playing tighter coverage or staying healthy. However, each player must actually perform all three tasks in order for the defense to become elite.
– Antonio Furgiuele