In a normally quiet period, the Jacksonville Jaguars used the trade deadline to significantly upgrade their defense and win the bye week.
For this first time in a decade, the Jacksonville Jaguars look like a legitimate playoff contender. They sit tied for the AFC South lead with an underwhelming Tennessee Titans squad and they have a comically easy schedule over the back half of the season.
While folks still have questions about Blake Bortles and the offense, nobody is questioning the Jacksonville defense.
Well, they could have raised some concerns about the run defense, but the Jaguars may have laid those to rest after trading for All Pro defensive tackle Marcel Dareus.
While the Jaguars are absorbing a massive contract to take on Dareus, they gave up relatively little (a 6th round pick) to upgrade their biggest position of need. His presence should have an immediate impact and it’s the type of in-season move the team hasn’t been in the position to make for a long time.
Gregg Rosenthal was such a big fan of the move that he listed the Jaguars twice in his winners and losers list.
First, he listed the Jaguars brain trust as winners:
Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone: Both men are clearly all in on the 2017 season after the deal for Marrone’s former player in Buffalo, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. Tom Coughlin’s presence in Jacksonville’s front office made this feel like a win-or-else season for the brass below him. They are in fine position to ride their loaded defense to playoff contention, something that hasn’t happened since 2010.
Then he listed the Jaguars’ division competitors on the losers list:
AFC South running backs: The book was out on the Jaguars’ defense. Their pass defense is ridiculously difficult to handle, but teams could do some damage against them on the ground. The acquisition of Dareus will make that endeavor tougher when the Jaguars put him next to Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson in their front.
This move will come in to play in a big way over the last 9 weeks, particularly within the division. While the Colts are a dumpster fire, the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans probably won’t be pushovers.
The Titans already manhandled the Jaguars once on the strength of Derrick Henry, and the Texans all of a sudden have one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league. Stopping the run against both of those teams will be vital to winning the division.
The Jaguars could potentially find themselves in a “loser goes home” game at the end of the season against the Titans and having Dareus stuffing the middle should help.