The Jacksonville Jaguars defense is currently ranked No. 1 in the NFL overall. They’re also ranked first against the pass, first in sacks, first in opposing quarterback rating, have given up the least amount of touchdown passes in the league, and the least points per game.
It was a defense that would suffocate you if you were forced into passing the football, and because of their ability to put pressure on the quarterback, often forced teams into that because they scored points on their own. The big Achilles heel was against the run, where the team ranked near bottom in the NFL.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had a really good defense prior to making the trade with the Buffalo Bills for defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, but there was something missing. The Jaguars defense was giving up chunk rushing plays and it held them back. It wasn’t that teams just ran over them for high yards per carry and would just grind them down, but it was clear something was missing from the Jaguars defensive line that made them struggle against the run. The front office identified what the issue was and found the solution in Dareus, who has since improved the Jaguars rush defense in a staggering way.
The chart below shows the Jaguars defense against the run and the pass through 10 games this season:
As you can see, since the addition of Dareus the Jaguars defense has taken a steep turn against the run. It’s not because Dareus is making a ton of plays in the backfield, either. Dareus is forcing teams to account for him which is doing things like freeing up Malik Jackson to penetrate easily and cause disruption in the backfield, blowing up run plays before they get started. How many times Sunday did we see Jackson whip the guard in a one-on-on situation and live in the backfield?
Not only are the Jaguars the best team in the NFL in shutting down the pass, they’re steadily improving against being top half against the run, moving from 31st in the NFL to 17th in just three weeks with the addition of Dareus. Coupled with those two things, the Jaguars defense has also singlehandedly done enough in four of the Jaguars seven wins to have either outscored the other team outright or tied, without the offense scoring a point. Over the past three weeks the Jaguars defense has allowed just 31 points and if you push it back to the Indianapolis Colts game, it’s still… 31 points allowed.
I’m trying to put into words just how good the Jaguars defense is playing right now, but all you need to know is that they outright refused to let the Jaguars lose the past two weeks and drug the team to victory.