The Jacksonville Jaguars have put together a bit of a defensive resurgence the past two weeks, limiting the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans to the same amount of points combined as they allowed the San Diego Chargers to put up (33) in week four, their previous low for the season. That’s pretty impressive considering the historically poor pace the defense was on after the first few weeks of the season.
The Cleveland Browns should see the same improved defense when they take on the Jaguars this week.
The Browns are going to play the Jaguars hard, especially in the running game. They run the ball the second most in the league and have racked up the third most yards as a result. They’ll try the same against the Jags’ middling ranked (18th) rushing defense. The Jaguars have struggled against the run at times but their numbers are improved because the pass defense is so easily exploited.
The Browns will turn likely try and force their strength (the running game) down upon the Jaguars’ defense rather than rely solely on Brian Hoyer and the passing game. This could be a major break for the Jags’ secondary, but it will set the team up to face a formidable rushing test for the first time this season.
Fortunately the defense has been stout as of late and there’s no reason to think they can’t keep the Jaguars in this game. The defense kept the Steelers below 400 yards in week five and kept the Titans below 300 this past week. The Browns boast an offensive average of 383 yards so it will be a test for the Jaguars to see if they can keep Cleveland from breaching 400. Based on the impressive performances over the past couple weeks, it’s certainly possible. The Browns have only broken the 400 yard barrier once, when they went off for 460 total yards against the Titans in week five. Gus Bradley has his defense playing hot right now and they are eager to make up for mistakes through the first four weeks of the season.
Expect the defensive line to continue to play well, especially the pass rush. With less of a passing threat (the Browns attempt less passes than every team in the league except two) the Jaguars should be able to shift some defenders into the box to defend against the run.
For the first time this season the Jaguars will face a one-dimensional offensive attack. While that’s nothing to scoff at – the Browns are finding some impressive success after all! – it should prove good for the defense.