Here is a quick rundown of Jacksonville's 2008 Defensive statistics against the pass.
|Yards Per Completion||8.1||30th|
|Yards per Game||224.1||24th|
|1st downs allowed||166||12th|
|20+ yard receptions allowed||55||31st|
|40+ yard receptions allowed||17||32nd|
|Opposing QB Rating||95.4||28th|
I'll give everyone a minute to grab the beverage of their choice to deal with those numbers. The only category the Jaguars pass defense didn't rank in the bottom half was first downs allowed. Call me cynical, but I think that was helped by the fact the Jaguars gave up so many big plays.
The stats that really bother me are the number of 20+ and 40+ yard receptions allowed. Those are the big plays that can change a game around. Jacksonville gave up between three and four of those a game, and one of those was going for 40+. To put that into perspective, the Pittsburgh Steelers gave up 23 20+ yard passes and only two went for 40+. The average number of 20+ yard pass plays given up in 2008 was 42.3. The average number of 40+ yard plays given up was 7.7.
Putting things lightly, the statistics show the Jaguar's pass defense was bad last year. That 95.4 QB rating would have been good for 5th in the NFL last year. The question now becomes, how do the Jaguars improve in 2009?
If Shack Harris wants any kind of vindication, the defensive line needs to make a resurgence in 2009. The Jaguars never generated a consistent pass rush last year, leading to receivers managing to work their way open. It doesn't matter if we had Deion Sanders in his prime, if Peyton Manning has all day to throw, he'll pick the defense apart.
Derrick Harvey needs to step up in a big way. He was given a mulligan last year, as many noted how other now dominant defensive ends struggled their rookie year. However, considering Harvey's reputation for taking plays off and not giving 100%, he'll need to show a lot this up coming year.
Reggie Hayward may finally be all the way back from his ruptured Achilles. Hayward seemed to be a great free agent pick up until the injury has slowed him down through out most of his career as a Jaguar.
Quentin Groves is going to be submitting quite a few samples to the NFL's drug testing personnel. Groves is absolutely massive compared to how he was last year. It's obvious he is set on being an every downs player instead of being simply a pass rusher or a 3-4 OLB stuck on a 4-3 team.
These three players have to provide the majority of the pass rush for the Jaguars. If anyone of these can turn in a 10 sack season that can force a double team off of Henderson, then they'll be doing their job and the Jaguars will improve.
As I noted in the first Camp Battle article, the defensive secondary should be improved no matter what. With no Drayton Florence and a hopefully rebounding Reggie Nelson, that area should be improved.
Where the question marks lie are with Derek Cox, Brian Williams, Sean Considine, and new comer Gerald Alexander. Alexander was a solid player before a neck injury sidelined him last year. I believe he is a lock at the strong safety position going into camp.
That now leaves the battle between Cox and Williams at the corner position. Regardless of who wins, I'm sure both will see plenty of action as the nickel back. I believe Williams will win the position in training camp, bumping Cox to play nickel this year.
Well, the Jaguars pass defense can't get any worse. A now healthy Reggie Hayward and veteran Derrick Harvey have to provide a consistent pass rush for anything to change. If they can, the Jaguars secondary has the talent to take advantage.