Jaguars look to do more defensively in 2019
By David Levin
Even though the Jacksonville Jaguars finished the 2018 season with a top-five defense in the NFL last season, the team looks to get better in 2019.
When asked this past week what he wants to see for his football team in 2019, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone gave an answer many of us in the media have heard over the course of the past two seasons. He wants to see this franchise get better.
Whether it is the coaching staff or the players on the field, Marrone has said he wants to see everyone work every day to get better. That includes the defense that at times wasn’t the juggernaut it appeared to be in 2017.
"“There are going to be different things defensively and for our players to be challenged with that are going to be different,” Marrone said at the Coaches-Media breakfast in Arizona. “We are going to take a look at them and see how they fit and see if it is something that we feel comfortable moving forward and putting into our package when we play on Sunday.”"
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There were changes made to the coaching staff, which included the addition of Dom Capers as a defensive advisor which could be the biggest addition of the offseason not named Nick Foles. His experience is welcomed to help coordinator Todd Wash and his staff get the most out of this unit and hopefully a return to the dominance it experienced two seasons ago.
The Jaguars totals across the board were down. A reduction in sacks. Fewer interceptions. Not as many turnovers and the defense did not score touchdowns as it did during the run to the playoffs in 2017. At times, there was miscommunication in the secondary. There were instances when linebackers looked out of place in space.
Things have to change if Jacksonville is going to once again beat the likes of Houston, Indianapolis, and Tennessee, let alone the other teams on their 2019 schedule.
Changes to the roster have already taken place. Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson will play elsewhere this year. A new middle linebacker, Jake Ryan, was signed from Green Bay in free agency. The team will have another new starter at safety this season, potentially Jarrod Wilson.
Marrone knows with changes comes expectations and a learning curve the coaching staff is quick to pick up.
"“It is difficult anytime you lose a player,” Marrone said. “You are talking about two players that I would say have established themselves as very good, very productive NFL football players that have done a lot,” he said.“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, well they must not have liked them. They must have been a problem.’ A lot of times it is just very simple. It is a business decision, it is a [salary] cap decision.”"
Taven Bryan is going to be asked to come back his second season and play more inside and become a run stuffer. The team still could use another pass rusher to help with the rotation.
Yannick Ngakoue is playing in the final year of his rookie deal and could have a monster season.
The same could be said for Jalen Ramsey, who could take the next step toward becoming the best cornerback in the NFL. The team needs big years from both Telvin Smith and Myles Jack.
It’s all about finding a balance of new and old faces coming together to make it all work over the course of 16 games and beyond.
"“The players that come in and replace those [departed] players and take those spots have a lot to live up to because those guys have played well,” Marrone said. “They are going to have to come out and play well. Our expectation is that they play better than what we have had out of it. I think that is what coaching is, and that is how you go about it.”"