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The Jacksonville Jaguars enter the bye week at 2-5, a stark contrast from where they’ve been 7 games into recent seasons. While 2-5 would be a discouraging record for most teams, it signals improvement for a team that only won 7 games in the last 2 seasons, and it’s somehow good enough to stay in the hunt in a downright horrific AFC South.
As we slow things down for the bye week, we can take some time to look back and grade out each position group to help piece together how the Jaguars got to this point.
Let’s move on to an area that has been underwhelming – the defensive line.
Here are the overall defensive line statistics after 7 games:
- 16 sacks (17th in the NFL)
- 22% stuff percentage (10th in the NFL)
- 8.2% adjusted sack rate according to Football Outsiders (6th in the NFL)
- 3.5 yards per rush attempt allowed (1st in the NFL)
The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Dante Fowler Jr. with the 3rd overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft with the hope of providing this defense with a much needed edge rushing force. Unfortunately, Fowler went down for the year with a freak knee injury in the first practice of the offseason and the Jaguars have consequently struggled along the defensive line.
The statistics I laid out above show how far advanced metrics has to go as far as evaluating line play. Football Outsiders has the Jaguars ranked quite favorably in terms of adjusted sack rate, but that doesn’t really jive with what we’re seeing on the field. The Jaguars have allowed below average quarterbacks to excel in recent weeks thanks to a lack of pressure, particularly when rushing with only 4.
Looking at individual players, Chris Clemons and Andre Branch might 2 of the worst 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL. Both routinely rush upfield so far they are completely out of the play and neither has been able to provide a pass rush without some kind of scheme help. The Jaguars only have one reliable pass rusher in Ryan Davis, but he’s historically been most effective along the interior. This team has no edge rushing assets without Fowler on the field.
The run defense on the other hand has been encouraging. Outside of a rejuvenated Doug Martin who looked unstoppable in Tampa Bay, the Jaguars have done a good job of bottling up opposing runners. Part of that is opposing offenses are opting to pass the ball more because that’s a recipe for success against the Jacksonville defense, but it’s still worth mentioning how well Roy Miller, Abry Jones, and Tyson Alualu are playing against the run.
The most disappointing part of the defensive line has been free agent acquisition Jared Odrick. Aside from his terrific outing against his former team in week 2, Odrick has been largely ineffective, specifically as a pass rusher. That’s not really his job as the “big end,” but the hope was Odrick could replicate what Red Bryant was doing but with a little bit more of a pass rush.
Bye Week Grades: Defense Line – C-minus
- Chris Clemons – D-minus
- Roy Miller – B-plus
- Tyson Alualu – B-minus
- Jared Odrick – D
- Ryan Davis – B
- Andre Branch – D-minus
- Abry Jones – B
- Sen’Derrick Marks – Incomplete