Jacksonville Jaguars Wednesday Warm-up: Defense has to stiffen up on 3rd down


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The Jacksonville Jaguars are 1-5 and undoubtedly one of the worst, if not the absolute worst team in the NFL right now so there are plenty of things to point out that need improvement. Perhaps the most glaring issue on the squad is the complete lack of a pass rusher, a factor that has led to terrific outings for replacement-level quarterbacks in three straight weeks (

Matt Hasselbeck


Jameis Winston

, and

Brian Hoyer


The inability to pressure the quarterback has wide-ranging implications, but the most significant impact comes on third down, especially if you are forcing the opposing offense into an obvious passing situation. On third-and-long, you need your pass rushers to affect the quarterback and prevent him from converting. There are few things more back-breaking for a defense and a team as whole than to give up a big play on third down after shutting down an offense on first and second down.

Unsurprisingly, the Jaguars are the worst team in the league at getting opposing offenses off the field on third down. On 86 third downs this season, the Jaguars have let opponents convert an astonishing 50% of them for first downs. Half! That’s completely unacceptable.

There’s not much the Jaguars can do personnel-wise right now to improve the pass rush (although continuing to play two ineffective LEOs in Chris Clemons and Andre Branch is mind-boggling), but they have to try something. Whether it’s giving Ryan Davis more snaps (which they should be doing already) or scheming and calling more exotic blitzes, the Jaguars can’t continue to give opposing QBs all day in the pocket to scan the field and throw a pass for a first down.

The Jaguars still don’t know they’ll be facing EJ Manuel or Tyrod Taylor, but neither is known for being proficient as a passer. If the Jaguars are ever going to turn it around on defense, this is going to be one of their few upcoming realistic opportunities.

Next: Gus Bradley safe for now

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