By all accounts, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense played an outstanding game against a tough New Orleans Saints team on Sunday— holding the Saints to just 13 points, 104 rushing yards and 222 passing yards. But this wasn’t enough as Jacksonville fell to New Orleans by a score of 13-6.
It was the offense, not the defense, that was the issue on Sunday afternoon. However, something that has plagued the Jacksonville defense all season long has been a lack of creating turnovers. The team had zero takeaways against the Saints, while Jacksonville gave the ball away once.
This was an issue in 2018, too, when the team had just 17 takeaways all season long. So far through six games in 2019, the team has just two takeaways, and only one of those was forced by the defense — an interception against Joe Flacco and the Denver Broncos. The other was a fumble recovery on a muffed punt against the Tennessee Titans, which is obviously attributed to the special teams.
This kind of performance simply isn’t going to help you win football games. The unit took an obvious hit missing Jalen Ramsey in the secondary for the past three games, but if Ramsey truly wants out of Jacksonville eventually, we may have to get use to him not being in the lineup. That means other players need to step up.
A big reason for Jacksonville’s success and impressive playoff run in the 2017 season was because of the defense’s ability to force turnovers (ranked second in the league with 33), get sacks (ranked second in the league with 55) and score defensive touchdowns (led the league with seven). These lack of big plays is what has caused the defense (and the team’s) demise in 2018 and so far in 2019.
I mentioned sacks. One area the Jaguars have improved upon compared to last season is indeed sacks. As of press time (prior to the Week 6 Monday Night game), the Jaguars are tied for fourth in the league with 19 sacks. The Jags added three sacks against the Saints, as Josh Allen, Dawuane Smoot and Najee Good each took down Teddy Bridgewater.
This is a team that still boasts the likes of Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack, A.J. Bouye, Marcell Dareus and others. While these players have had their ups-and-downs this season, and perhaps there have been issues with the scheme itself, it should be expected that a unit full of Pro Bowl-caliber players is able to force more than one turnover through six games. If the Jaguars plan to win games this season, the defensive unit absolutely has to create more ways to take the ball away from opposing offenses.
With an 0-6 Cincinnati Bengals team on the clock, this may be a get right game for both the Jaguars to get back on the winning track, and for the defense to force more turnovers. The Bengals have had 11 turnovers through six game, and have at least one turnover in five of the team’s first six games this season.