As we all know, the Jacksonville Jaguars experimented with defense last season. Sometimes you learn a lot from experiments. Sometimes you learn good things and sometimes you find out just how bad things are, like the Jaguars pass rush.
Things may change this year, though.
With Jack Del Rio's job on the line this year, it's going to be his defense that is run. Jack Del Rio will be calling the defensive plays. The Jaguars will be going back to their traditional 4-3 look. No more messing around with the 3-4, for this season at least.
Last year General Manager Gene Smith brought in former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to run the Jaguars "hybrid" defense, as Tucker has a background in the 3-4. I was still writing for JagNation.com when this hire took place, but we thought it was peculiar because Mel Tucker was a 3-4 coach and the Jaguars were a 4-3 team. We put two and two together and sprinkled in the players the scouting department was paying attention to in the draft. We talked to some of our sources and began reporting the Jaguars would be moving to a 3-4 defense. They did, despite rampant denial all off-season, and it was met with lukewarm results. The defense wasn't any better than it was in the 4-3, some would argue it was actually worse. The Jaguars ran the 3-4 for 50% of the season and switched back to the 4-3 for the back half of the year.
Neither was really all that effective.
In the 3-4 (8 games) the Jacksonville Jaguars allowed an average of 254.6 passing yards, 2.1 touchdown passes, and 0.8 interceptions per game. They also gave up an average of 120.5 yards on the ground per game. On the flip-side in the 4-3 (8 games) the Jaguars allowed an average of 217.1 passing yards, 1.4 touchdown passes, and 1.1 interceptions per game. They also gave up an average of 112.4 yards on the ground per game. Quick note on the difference in yards on the ground per game; In the 3-4 is when the Chris Johnson 200+ yard game occurred, so in reality the Jaguars defense was actually better versus the run in the 3-4. That huge number by Johnson was more so predicated by Brian Russell's inability to tackle than the 3-4 alignment itself, as the Jaguars held Johnson to only 83 yards the first go-'round.
We all know how bad the Jaguars were at sacking and pressuring the quarterback, in both alignments, so I won't get into that. It is worth mentioning however, that the new-look Jaguars defensive line is very reminiscent of the old Dallas Cowboys teams that Jack Del Rio played for from 1989 to 1991. It was an attacking penetrating defensive line, which is what the Jacksonville Jaguars are expecting this season with the pick-up of Aaron Kampman and the drafting of Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith. It's a defense Jack Del Rio had success with when he played and the type of defense that can help secure his coaching tenure, if all the pieces fall together.
What is Mel Tucker's role going to be as "defensive coordinator" if Jack Del Rio is calling the defense? That remains to be seen. Tucker was working quite a bit with the defensive backs, which is his specialty, in mini-camp. I'm sure he'll also be drawing up some blitz packages for use with some of the Jaguars infamous "designated pass rushers".