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Jacksonville Jaguars Off-Season Outlook: Defense

I could just go the easy route for looking at the off-season outlook and say blow the defense to smithereens, but that'd be too easy. Plus, the Jacksonville Jaguars do have some good players at key pieces on the defense and have a good foundation to build on. Click the jump and we'll look at who's a free-agent and the critical positions that need to be upgraded.

Jaguars players on defense set to be free agents:

  • Kirk Morrison, MLB
  • Justin Durant, OLB
  • Freddy Keiaho, OLB
  • David Jones, CB
  • Sean Considine, S

The elephant in the room for the Jacksonville Jaguars defense is the back seven. The defensive line is locked up for a while, littered with young players and freshly signed free agents like Jeremy Mincey and Aaron Kampman. I would look for the Jaguars to add another defensive end either through the draft or in free agency. Not necessarily a big name player, but they need another pass rusher.

I don't expect either Kirk Morrison or Justin Durant to be re-signed by the Jaguars. In my opinion, neither has really played all that well. I gave Morrison a pass early in the season because he was getting acclimated to a new system, but his play was rather average much of the season and he often got beat in coverage. His best game was against his former team, the Oakland Raiders. Justin Durant on the other hand just can't stay healthy. He's a pretty good player who has physical ability, but he's yet to put it all together on the field. He's never been able to play an entire season in his short career. I would look for the Jaguars to look to upgrade the linebacker position in both free agency and the draft. Judging by Wayne Weaver's press conference, he thinks the team is close to making a playoff push. Whether or not I disagree, there are a few free agent linebackers the Jaguars could target to bolster the defense.

Potential Jaguars LB Targets:

  • Chad Greenway
  • Ben Leber
  • Barrett Ruud
  • Stephen Nicholas
  • Paul Posluszny
  • D'Qwell Jackson
  • Zac Diles
  • Clint Session
  • Thomas Howard
  • Ernie Sims
  • Quincy Black
  • Antwan Barnes

In the secondary, the Jaguars have to get Don Carey off the football field first and foremost. I can't count the ways he kills the defense because I don't have enough fingers. While it's not always entirely his fault, Carey routine bites on play fakes and takes horrible angles when he comes in to support the run. I feel Courtney Greene will settle in just fine as a strong safety. He's adequate in coverage and is an asset in coming up to support the run. On the outside at the corner position, I don't have that much of a problem with Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox. Cox had a really rough pre-season and opening day, but once he came back from his benching he played solid. I don't think Mathis was near as bad as fans make him out to be, but he is clearly on the decline. Mathis has another year on his contract and if he's kept, I feel he'll be asked to make the move to free safety. I'd look for the Jaguars to look at safety and corner in both free agency and the draft.

Potential Jaguars DB Targets:

  • Eric Weddle, S
  • Carlos Rodgers, CB
  • Josh Wilson, CB
  • Quintin Mikell, S
  • Tom Zbikowski, S
  • Anthony Smith, S
  • Atari Bigby, S
  • Jarrad Page, S
  • Champ Bailey, CB

Champ Bailey seems like a "name" name to throw out, but he is coming off one of his best seasons ever and the Broncos do not look like they'll pay him. Signing someone like Bailey would allow you to move Mathis back to his natural position at free safety and shore up two positions at once. Money is of course a determining factor, but Bailey is also from and lives in the region.

While I expect an offensive position here or there, the Jaguars draft will likely be defense heavy again. I don't think this defense is far off from being a good defense. Not in the elite category, but good.

What Alfie Would Do If He Were GM:

If I were the GM, I would allow all of the current defensive free agents to walk and then make Chad Greenway my priority in free agency. Gene Smith has a relationship with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, which he used to help lure Aaron Kampman to Jacksonville. Greenway would fit perfect on the opposite side of Daryl Smith. To address the middle linebacker position I would draft someone like Nate Irving from NC State, who's likely a third round pick or so right now. I would also bring back a depth/potential starter player in Brian Iwuh, who I was surprised the Jaguars let go. In the secondary I would target Josh Wilson at the cornerback position and move Mathis to safety. Mathis has one year left on his deal worth $4.55 million. He made it known in the off-season he wanted a new deal but fell on his face during the season. I'd give Mathis the chance to earn a new deal at a new/old position, free safety. I'd also consider trying to net a middle-tier defensive end like Dave Ball to add depth and competition.