The Jacksonville Jaguars are on the verge of clinching their first ever AFC South title, that is if the Jaguars can beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday or watch the Tennessee Titans lose to the Los Angeles Rams prior to kickoff. A big reason the Jaguars are in the position however is because of some key in-season additions to their roster.
The Jaguars defense was very good prior to the trade for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, but adding the interior lineman has pushed their overall total defense to a different level. Prior to Dareus, the Jaguars rush defense was among the worst in the NFL, but since his addition the Jaguars have climbed to the Top 20 in the league and with another good showing on Sunday, will likely climb higher.
Prior to Dareus the Jaguars have up an average of 139 rushing yard per game. Since Dareus, it’s just 92 yards per game. That’s a difference of almost 50 yards per game less in the same amount of time.
The other player who has been a big key in-season addition is punt returner/wide receiver Jaydon Mickens. He kind of exploded into the limelight last week with a two-touchdown day against the Texans, but even prior to that he’s had a big impact returning kicks. Mickens is averaging 11.9 yards per punt return, has three returns over 20 yards and two over 40 yards, including a touchdown. He also had a key long punt return in the team’s win against the Seattle Seahawks a few weeks ago.
The basis for the Jaguars success was built on some of their draft picks and free agent acquisitions, but two key in-season additions catapulted them forward.
EDIT: Like all good kickers, I forgot about Josh Lambo as someone reminded me in the comments. Lambo has been a huge boost too, because no one is on edge when the team lines up to kick anymore.