Malik Jackson knows where his bread is buttered.
The Jacksonville Jaguars tied their franchise-high 10 sacks (again) this year. A lot of the credit is going towards the defensive line — and rightly so — but when you ask the linemen how they’re able to lead the league in sacks week after week, they keep coming back to the same answer:
It’s because they have the best secondary in the NFL behind them.
“We have to take our hats off to those guys on the back end,” Malik Jackson said after the game. “They’re doing a hell of a job locking guys down and giving us extra time to work. We realize that our first rush doesn’t win a lot so you have to get your second and third opportunities to beat the guy in front of you. That’s when we’re getting to the quarterback.”
And Jackson is right. Look at the first sack on Jacoby Brissett — he obviously goes through several reads. If a receiver were open this play, this isn’t even close to a sack. Jackson needs three or four pushes to finally get past Colts center Ryan Kelly.
Or this one by Calais Campbell. It’s a great inside move by the veteran, but it needs time to develop — and the Jaguars secondary is happy to give it to him.
TEN SACKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/I8TQ88UmHs— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) October 22, 2017
In fact, when you rewatch all 10 sacks you see that the coverage is directly responsible for the extra time the linemen got on six of them.
“Like they say, ‘rush and cover’,” Barry Church said when asked what it’s like to see the defensive line getting sack after sack. “We’re back there clamping those guys up and those guys are up there eating, coming off the edge, sacking the quarterback — it’s a beautiful thing.”
After seven games, the Jaguars have 33 sacks meaning they’re projected to finish the year with 75. The current NFL record for sacks in a season is 72, held by the 1984 Chicago Bears.