Jack Del Rio likes this defense, and expects improvement over last season's defensive debacle.
Del Rio sounds as if he thinks he has the players to get it done.
"I like this group," he said.
But Del Rio is the first to admit that talk is cheap. "You don't get to talk your way into it," he said.
"There's no reason to get excited about anything in May except seeing the things that have to be done to give you a chance. And that is energy, effort, commitment, complete buy-in - those are the things we're focusing on right now," Del Rio said. "As a staff we're working our tails off to make sure we're putting our guys in the best possible position they can be in to make plays."
He added, "Right now, I like the way we're going about our work
Although the team didn't make any big splashes in free agency or the draft, the coaching staff is confident the defense can return to its 2007 form.
At first I was confused, "How can we expect to improve when all we've changed is our coaching staff?", I wondered. It's really quite simple actually, and it has nothing to do with our personnel, or the fact that we'll have our two DE's in their second season. It has to do with the offense's ability to stay on the field.
The 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars couldn't run the ball due to a horrific series of events that only the most depraved mind could imagine. Three major injuries and a brutal murder attempt all but eroded the offensive line's ability to play cohesively. They became a weekly jumble of players who continued to be plagued by injuries.
Chris Naeole was re-signed mid-season, and hope sprang forth, "Had we finally found someone to cover for Manuwai?", was the thought of every Jaguar fan. We couldn't believe it when they panned the camera to Naeole, only to see his hand wrapped in a cast. He had broken it during the pre-game warm-ups...
There was nothing that could be done. The offense was doomed to be inept last season. We all learned the importance of the offensive linemen, a great educational experience for every fan. As a result, we heard almost no complaints about the Monroe and Britton picks. We know just how crucial depth along the line is to sustaining success. All but a few fans loved Gene's picks, with some going so far as to express their undying allegiance to the team's new Emperor.
You might be asking how building the offensive line specifically strengthens the defense. There are a few positions on the offense that can indirectly improve a defense. Any offensive line position or running back, specifically because they improve the running attack.
If you control the time of possession, which is done exclusively on the ground, then the opponent's offense stays off the field. This allows the defense to play fewer snaps overall then they normally would. Fewer snaps means fewer yards, more pass plays, and less scoring by the opponents offense. Playing fewer snaps also means that your defense is fresher and less prone to injury (because, again, they play fewer snaps).
Regardless of how well the defense improves on its own, the offense's improvement in the running game will show immediate dividends on the defensive side of the ball.