Grading Jaguars position groups on defense ahead of 2022 offseason
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense had some Jekyll and Hyde vibes in 2021 due to how uneven its performance was. While the unit played at an elite level at times and played a key role in the team’s three wins last season, they also struggled to consistently stop opposing offense from moving the ball and reaching the end zone.
On the bright, the Jags nearly doubled their sack tally from 2020, posting 32 last year. Their defense also gave them a fighting chance more often than not and kept them in several games while their offense held them back. Hopefully, they will carry some momentum into next season and be more consistent. For the time being, here’s how all the Jaguars’ position groups on defense rank ahead of the 2022 season.
Grading Jaguars position groups on defense – Defensive line.
The Jags’ defensive front did a good job of clogging up running lanes early in 2021, giving up more than 100 rushing yards in a game just twice in the first nine weeks of the season. In fact, Jacksonville had one of the top 10 defenses against the run at some point of the year. However, their performance waned down the stretch, allowing 100 rushing yards or more nearly every game in the second half of the year.
Defensive tackle Malcolm Brown was a solid addition via trade last offseason. The 2015 first-round pick started every single outing and logged 57 total tackles, four tackles for a loss, and two sacks. Free-agent acquisition Jihad Ward proved to be a valuable contributor, logging two sacks and 32 total tackles, while Roy Roberston-Harris appeared in 14 games with 13 starts and went on to register 37 total tackles, six tackles for a loss, and four sacks.
Equally productive was defensive lineman Adam Gotsis, who re-signed last offseason and become a key cog in the Jags’ defensive line rotation. The 2016 second-round pick was on the wrong end of a few head-scratching penalties but was responsible for some impact plays, including fourth-down stands against both the Los Angeles Rams in Week 13 and the Indianapolis Colts in the season finale.
Defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton didn’t have a breakout year in his sophomore campaign but managed to stay healthy after suffering a knee injury late in the 2020 season. Rookie Jay Tufele didn’t see the field much in 2021 but that was due to the depth at the position and a hand injury that forced him out a few games. The former USC Trojan should get more playing next season. Taven Bryan had a career game against the Buffalo Bills in Week 9 but had an uneventful year otherwise.
Final 2021 grade: C-