2. The Jacksonville Jaguars are pressuring quarterbacks at a high rate.
The Jaguars’ ranked 31st in points allowed last season. One big reason was their inability to generate pressure up front, which gave opposing quarterbacks plenty of time to tear their secondary apart. The team as a whole finished with 18 sacks. Thus, the team’s brass spent the offseason revamping the unit.
Besides bringing back Dawuane Smoot and Adam Gotsis, the team signed Roy Robertson-Harris and Jihad Ward in free agency. They also traded for Malcom Brown and drafted Jay Tufele and Jordan Smith in this year’s selection meeting. Moreover, Josh Allen is 100 percent after suffering a knee injury that limited him to eight games and 2.5 sacks in 2020. The Kentucky product is playing the way he did back in 2019, the year he earned a Pro Bowl designation.
After two weeks, the Jags have logged 33 pressures, the second-most in the NFL and only behind the Carolina Panthers’ 39. They have also registered four sacks. If they keep this pace, they should be able to double their totals from last year, which is something defensive coordinator Joe Cullen said was totally doable.
Smoot currently leads with teams with seven pressures and Allen and Ward have four each. This is still a long season, and the defensive front needs to start forcing turnovers but the early results are positive.