Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue have certainly made a difference through the first half of 2016 but they must do more in the second half.
With four sacks and 2.5 sacks, Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. lead the Jacksonville Jaguars in a critical category. They’re the pass rushing defensive ends that the Jaguars desperately need in order for the defense to function.
But those combined 6.5 sacks just aren’t enough. The demand for consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, of which sacks is a proxy measurement, isn’t being met.
In particular, the streaks in which the sacks have come is noticeable. Fowler had two sacks in Week 2 against the San Diego Chargers then had a dry spell until Week 9 when he picked up a half sack.
Similarly, Ngakoue had a sack in each game from Week 2 to Week 5 but hasn’t had a single sack in the four weeks since.
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To say the two pass rushers were in a dry spell would be an understatement. They have barely sniffed the quarterback, even with standout play from defensive tackle Malik Jackson leading the way. Jackson creates opportunities from his defensive tackle position and is among the best pass rushers in the NFL this season (per Pro Football Focus).
Fowler has been called out by defensive coordinator Todd Wash, saying, “We just have to continue to stay on him to make sure he’s working on the fundamentals.” For a player who spent all last season watching from the bench and was supposedly the best pass rusher in his 2015 draft class, this is unexpected. Fowler has struggled consistently, even failing to find the line of scrimmage on some plays.
The Jaguars may be optimistic that Fowler and Ngakoue represent a strong future at defensive end, but they must reconcile the fact that right now in the middle of the season they aren’t getting the job done. Wash and head coach Gus Bradley must find a way to get these two young players to get the quarterback because right now it simply isn’t working.