At 3-8, the Jaguars are all but eliminated from contention in the 2011 playoffs. At this point, the Jaguars can only look towards the future when analyzing games and upcoming matchups as wins and losses mean nothing more than different positions in the 2012 draft now.
While the Jaguars are certainly not a playoff team and have much building to do, there are still some things that are encouraging about the 2011 Jaguars and bode well for the team in the not-so-distant future. Particularly, pieces on defense.
Coming into the 2011 season, the biggest concern about the Jaguars defense was depth. While the starting lineup looked good on paper, it appeared as though it was a very thin group beyond the starting 11. Following a streak of injuries that has limited or, in some cases, eliminated the contributions of starters on the defense, the defensive depth has been put to the test and the returns have been encouraging.
Without starting cornerbacks Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis, the secondary has filled in for the pair nicely using William Middleton, Kevin Rutland and recent signing, Ashton Youboty. While the team may need to address the cornerback position in the draft with Mathis's contract expiring after the season, the future at the position is encouraging for the Jaguars.
Also encouraging was the defensive line's performance against Arian Foster and the Texans. With the exception of a 43 yard run early in the game, the defensive line sans Terrance Knighton, Matt Roth and Aaron Kampman was able to hold Foster to 22 yards on his other 21 carries. An very impressive performance for a defensive line featuring Leger Douzable and C.J. Mosley against one of the dominant run-blocking offensive lines in the NFL.
Russell Allen's performance in the place of Clint Session also proved to be strong on Sunday and was enough to earn Gene Smith's Scout's Eye unsung player of the game during the GM's weekly radio show.
With strong, young talent on the Jaguars defense, the team has young talent that should be able to keep the Jaguars as one of the league's top units into the future, giving the organization time to bring the offense up to a level capable of winning a championship.