MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 09: Terrance Knighton #96 of the Jacksonville Jaguars tackles Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings as he scrambles with the ball during the first quarter of the season opener on September 9, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost in overtime to the Minnesota Vikings 26-23 to kick off Week 1 of the regular season, with the Jaguars defense struggling to get any kind of pressure on Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. The Jaguars defense hit the second-year quarterback just once in the game, as Ponder had plenty of time to throw and pick apart a struggling Jaguars secondary for much of the second half.
While the Jaguars were thin on Sunday, carrying just three defensive ends in Jeremy Mincey, Andre Branch, and Aaron Morgan, the pressure on the quarterback was virtually non-existent. Mincey, surprisingly, was handled by Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt. I expected the Jaguars to put Mincey at Loadholt's side to get an advantage, but the third-year tackle did his job and made Mincey basically a non-factor much of the game.
It wasn't just Mincey who struggled however, as second-round pick Andre Branch was also shut down by Vikings first-round pick Matt Kalil. Branch was close to a sack on a play late in the game, but couldn't keep his balance and went to the ground. The Jaguars ends also struggled holding the edge in running plays and over-pursuing at times.
Really, the only defensive end who played well was Aaron Morgan, who was able to cause a bad throw and also stayed home on a play that went for minimal game, because he was able to stick to his assignment.
The Jaguars are going to see a heck of a lot more from their defensive ends going forward if the defense wants to improve. You can't hit a quarterback just once and expect to have much success defensively.