Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash has stressed that in order for the team to rush the passer it must first stop the run. The Jaguars have honed in on the latter part, but have been drawing practically goose eggs through two weeks of the season, but perhaps that will change soon.
“I mean it’s real good,” Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen told the media on Tuesday when asked about the team’s success against the run. “Now, we have to get after this passer. We made a big emphasis on stopping the run, but we still have fourteen more games left of the season to keep this up.
“We just have to continue to stop the run and now we just have to do a better job of getting to the passer and I feel like we’ll be a really good defense.”
The team’s success against the run has come due to a variety of reasons.
The Jaguars made it a point of emphasis over the course of the offseason to add players that will help in that area. Middle linebacker Joe Schobert was signed primarily to be a force in the middle of the team’s defense, and defensive end Adam Gotsis - a late free agent signee - has become one of the team’s best run-stopping defenders.
According to ESPN’s Stats and Info, Gotsis is one of the top-5 edge defenders in run-stop win-rate percentage in the NFL, coming in at 39%, good for third-best in the NFL.
Against the Titans, the Jaguars held running back Derrick Henry to just 85 yards on 25 carries, an average of 3.36 yards-per-carry. While the run defense has been sound, the team’s performance at rushing the passer, says Allen, needs to improve.
“We all have to take that pride in just getting to the quarterback more, especially I do, so I’ve just been grinding as much as I can today and I’ve been thinking about all the missed rushes that I could’ve had,” said Allen. “[I have to] just learn from that and just move forward, just think about this week and plays I can make this week for my team.”
Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said on Tuesday that Allen has played well against the run, adding that without a preseason its taken him a little longer to get going, but the team has seen improvement from Allen throughout.
“You see the stoutness and stuff that we’ve asked him to develop. He had a couple rushes where he got there just a smidgen late and stuff against Tennessee, but I really think he’s preparing well,” said Wash. “Mentally, physically he’s in great shape and I think we’re going to continue to see him grow as the season goes on.”
According to statistics recorded by the NFL, Allen has accounted for three quarterback hits on the year.
As a rookie, Allen notched his first career sack(s) against the Titans on Thursday night football. Now, he will have an opportunity to get his first sack of his second season in the NFL today against the Dolphins.
The first - and only - sack of the season for the Jaguars’ defensive line would come last week in Nashville against the Titans as rookie defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson swam past Titans guard Rodger Saffold to bring down Ryan Tannehill. While he wasn’t a fan of the celebration Chaisson had, Allen was excited for the rookie to get home.
“He’s definitely taking strides to be a good defensive end in the league for a very long time and I’m excited to see that,” said Allen. “I think I was more excited than he was, especially after I realized that he got the first sack of the year. Him being part of our d-line group, I was so excited.”
After he got the sack, Chaisson didn’t appear to do a sack dance, something Allen says he will need to improve on as the season moves forward.
“He needs to do better on the celebration because it was kind of trash, so we’re kind of working on that because I think he’s going to get many more. But yeah, I was excited and hopefully he gets many more.”
In total, the Jaguars have logged two sacks as a defense, one for Chaisson and one for middle linebacker Myles Jack.
Against the Dolphins, the Jaguars will face a unit that has given up just three sacks on the year, according to Pro Football Focus. As a collective offensive line, however, the team has given up 17 pressures, the most of any team the Jaguars have faced thus far this season.
The Jaguars have, in recent seasons, been one of the more pass-rush dominant teams in the NFL. Now, they’ll look to re-emerge as the season unfolds, trying to get back to the dominance they once had.