The Jacksonville Jaguars defense was improved significantly last season, but it still lacked in a couple of areas that prevented it from hitting the next level. One of those things was a consistent pass rush and the other was just the sheer lack of turnovers. The Jaguars were awful at forcing turnovers in 2016 and is something the team is really going to focus on for 2017.
The problem is, it’s not really just a switch you turn on. How exactly do you practice to turn the ball over more? Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone thinks just being physical is how you get that done, but it’s tough to practice that during mini-camp and organized team activities (OTAs).
“I’ve always been a firm believer and I’ve seen a couple teams that have been able to do it technically, I think you go back to when Lovie [Smith] was with the Bears, they did a heck of a job punching the ball out, stripping the football, things of that nature,” Marrone said last week when asked about focusing on turnovers. “I think in this period with the way we practice, I think that’s very hard if you’re saying you don’t want contact in this period. And then how are you going to teach the players to strip and do that? I think it’s difficult.”
When training camp rolls around though and the team actually has pads on and can hit, Marrone feels simply being a physical defense will lead to turnovers. With the focus on forcing more turnovers, being a physical defense is another point of emphasis for Marrone when camp and the preseason rolls around. The Jaguars will have good opportunity as well when they practice with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“So a physical D is when you can hit, hit, hit people, jolt that ball loose and then we’re having that second person going, and do it so a lot of that is going to be developed. The technique’s developed now and we’ve worked on it, but I don’t think we’ll see it for sure until we get out there and start hitting and start stripping,” Marrone added. “Again, I believe in physicality to force turnovers and pressure on the quarterback. How many times does a DB make a great play, you always go back and look to see the duress the quarterback was under. As long as we can do that and we can get a good pass rush, as long as we can be physical and I think obviously we can create some turnovers.”
With the additions to the Jaguars secondary, it’s likely they can feel more comfortable playing a little more aggressive with their coverages, which could lead to more turnovers. If the pass rushers on the defensive line develop further and Calais Campbell brings the consistency he’s always had, the Jaguars defense could see a big spike in turnovers in 2017.