Diagnosing 2-14: Defensive Tackles


Over the next week or so we will be going through the Jacksonville Jaguars 2012 roster to try and find the problems that led to the franchise’s worst-ever record: 2-14.  There were so many problems with this team that it goes well beyond one article. So, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll take it one position at a time.

This time: defensive tackle.

Here are the other parts of the series: QBOLWRTE, RB

Defensive tackle was a quiet spot for the Jaguars in 2012.  When your defensive tackles are quiet it usually isn’t a good thing.  Teams want a disruptive force who can collapse the pocket.  Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins is the cream of the crop in this regard.  The Jags don’t have a truly disruptive defensive tackle in the middle.  There are some bodies that can clog the line and allow the linebackers to make plays, but in a 4-3 you really need good play from the two guys in the middle.

Atkins would be a ridiculous barometer to measure every defensive tackle in the league by, but he is a superb player at his position so, just to provide a comparison to the Jaguars’ defensive tackles, we’ll note his stats here: 46 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 13 QB hits, 56 QB hurries, and 4 forced fumbles.

Here’s what the Jaguars’ defensive tackles did this season:

PlayerTacklesSacksQB HitsQB HurriesFumbles ForcedTyson Alualu453.51120C.J. Mosley452.5541Terrance Knighton3227102

While comparable to Atkins in tackles, the Jags’ defensive tackles combined have 4.5 less sacks, equal QB hits, 30 less QB hurries, and 1 less forced fumble.  That is from our entire defensive tackle (25% of snaps or more) unit.

The defensive tackle position is expected to perform at a much higher level than this.  When there is one playmaking defensive tackle it is expected that others may have lesser stats, but the Jags prove that nobody at the position was a playmaker.  While Alualu was tops in the team at sacking the quarterback, the general failure to hurry the quarterback cannot be ignored.  None of the Jags’ defensive tackles played at a high level on passing downs, and they were run over on running downs as well.

C.J. Mosley may be the most deserving of the three to prove himself to GM Dave Caldwell.  He was not terrible when rushing the quarterback and he was better than average against the run (though just slightly).  Alualu was decimated on running downs and had a very poor pass rush despite notching a handful of sacks.  Knighton, expected to be very good coming into this season, failed to live up to expectations and was below average on passing and running plays.

Good teams do not have doormats for defensive tackles.  The Jags’ defensive tackles are worse than doormats, they’re practically advertising running lanes for running backs.  2-14 is a tough mark to achieve, you have to be truly unfortunate at a number of key positions…defensive tackle is one of them and the Jaguars were truly unfortunate in 2012.

Next up, we’ll look at the defensive ends.

– Luke N. Sims

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