Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash believes the interior line will be better than it was in 2019, especially against the run.
The Jacksonville Jaguars run defense was more of a horror film than a highlight reel last season. The unit as a whole ranked 28th in the NFL, giving up large quantities of yards all season, but was particularly awful (yes, it’s not a mistake) during a five-week span (I wanted to use the word run, but thought better of it) in the middle of the 2019 campaign.
Defensive coordinator Todd Wash knows it was a problem area for this franchise and will address it this coming season. It starts in camp and will continue to remain a focal point of this season. Wash, who may have a seat as warm as head coach Doug Marrone in 2020, addressed the need to be better this year, especially on the interior of the defensive line, with the local media via virtual conference.
"“That’s where it starts,” Wash said. “I told them day one: ‘I’m tired of people turning around and just handing the damned ball off and getting four or five yards a crack.”’"
Three seasons ago, Wash was praised for having one of the best defenses in the NFL and one of the best seasons defensively in league history. Since then, there has been a love-hate relationship between the Jacksonville Jaguars fan base and how long will Wash remain on the staff before getting a pink slip.
If the coaching staff is unable to show progress this season (which is not defined yet) then it may not matter who is putting together defensive schemes in 2021.
Wash has had to deal with his share of change this season as well. The front office signed free agent Al Woods to help with the defensive tackle rotation, but the veteran has opted not to play this season. Dontavius Russell was placed on the I.R. There are questions about the depth and how the team may look on paper, with potentially the use of more 3-4 sub-packages.
It’s not just the interior of the defense Wash and his staff are working to correct. There also must be more cohesion in all three areas of this unit.
Veterans Abry Jones and Taven Bryan must play better in 2020. Asking DaVon Hamilton, a rookie third-rounder, to come in and put a stamp on the rotation could be asking too much. Look for Rodney Gunter to join the mix as well. The veteran from Arizona can play inside at tackle or move to the right as a big end.
Versatility, flexibility, and athleticism are part of the team’s makeup this season. The roster is also younger, which should be a benefit as well.
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"“That makes the continued development of third-year defensive tackle Taven Bryan critical to the run defense, and Wash said it also means Jones – the team’s most-tenured player – will be depended upon for leadership in an area that could help determine how the defense fares in 2020,” John Oehser of Jaguars.com wrote."
The Jacksonville Jaguars had a solid pass rush last season, however looking at the team’s roster and how there are plenty of new faces on the front line, it will be a constant storyline to watch, seeing which players prove they have adapted to the changes Wash has implemented.
Everything now is new and progressing. It will be up to Wash to see those changes through. If the changes to the interior work well early in the season, the Jaguars’ defense could be a big hit once again. But if the team struggles to stop the run, then everyone is in for a long season.