Before the start of the regular season most believed the Jacksonville Jaguars offense was going to be what kept them in games until all of the moving parts on defense was able to gel together. The reality of the situation has shockingly been flipped, as it’s the Jaguars defense that has kept the Jaguars in all of their games but one, against the San Diego Chargers who just absolutely destroy the Cover-3, and it’s seemingly only getting better. There are still some things they need to truly become a “good” defense, but as it stands right now they’re “good enough”, which is all you need to win in the NFL.
Currently the Jaguars defense is ranked eighth overall in the NFL for yards allowed. The flipside is they’re currently ranked 21st in scoring, giving up an average of 25.4 points per game, but I think that stat is a little bit inflated thanks to the Chargers game. Though, they have allowed teams to score often and early, settling down as the game goes on. Oh yeah, and letting teams storm back like against the Indianapolis Colts in London. Bottom line, that’s one of the areas the team needs to shore up, is scoring defense, especially while the offense is struggling to score.
The big question coming into the season for the defense was the pass rush and how they would stop opposing team’s quarterbacks, which so far has been just OK. The Jaguars are in the middle of the pack with sacks, but that number is significantly inflated since they played the Colts, who I could get a sack against. They still got those sacks against a bad team though, which is a significant improvement from previous seasons where they couldn’t even pressure bad teams. Through the air the Jaguars are giving up just over 210 yards a game and opposing quarterbacks have an 89.1 quarterback rating, which is great. They’ve also limited the chunk passing plays, allowing just 12 plays of 20 yards or more, which is tied for the second least in the NFL.
The biggest problem on the defense, which kind of coincides with the pass rush issue, is the Jaguars are just 28th in the NFL on third downs. They’re allowing teams to convert third downs at a rate of 45 percent, which is how you let other teams control the game. You need to get teams off the field on third down, obviously. We saw some of that on Sunday against the Chicago Bears, where it seemed like they kept every drive alive by just constantly picking up third downs. Thankfully the defense limited the Bears scoring, but against better teams that is what’s going to burn them.
Of course, like last season, the team is also good against the run. While the Jaguars are allowing just over 100 yards per game on the ground, it’s coming at just a clip of 3.8 yards per carry. Predominantly, the Jaguars are “giving up” rush yardage as teams have the lead and kill the clock more than anything else.
So as mentioned, the defense still has some issues that need to push it over the edge to a good defense, but right now good enough is … good enough.