Getting players back from injury and added to the rotation has improved the Jaguars woeful pass rush.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL, but over the past two weeks it's seen significant improvement in part because of more aggressive play calling and because the team has added more bodies to the defensive line rotation.
The Jaguars entered the bye week looking like they might tie the NFL record for least amount of sacks by a team in a season, but since the bye week have hit the opposing team quarterback nine times and picked up four sacks, nearly doubling their season total up to that point. A big part of that was the return of Austen Lane, George Selvie, and John Chick into the rotation.
"It’s very important to have depth in the defensive line," Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker told the media on Thursday. "You want to be able to keep guys fresh so they can go 100 miles per hour when they’re in there. Getting those guys back helps us in the run game and the pass game too."
Before those three players returned, guys like Jeremy Mincey were playing virtually every snap on the defensive side of the ball, and it showed. Mincey didn't look nearly as explosive off the snap as he did in 2011. Chick, who's potentially the team's best edge rusher, has made an impact on the quarterback in his short time back and Selvie offers a great change up off the bench.
Not only are Selvie and Chick adding another dimension to the pass rush, it seems to be helping second-round pick Andre Branch find his niche as a rookie. On Sunday against the Packers, Branch threw down Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga on his way to hit Aaron Rodgers.
The pass rush still needs some work, but any kind of improvement in that area is a good thing, regardless of how it comes. Against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, they'll need to be sure to bring the pressure and hit Matt Stafford, as it looks like the team could be without their two starting cornerbacks once again.