The team ranked dead last in total defense after the first week of preseason, having allowed 496 yards to a Philadelphia offense that does not appear that potent — at least on paper. The effort against Miami this past Saturday was better (341 total yards), but there continue to be concerns with certain aspects on defense, one of which is the ease in which opposing receivers are getting open.
Numerous times Dolphin receivers found open spots in the Jaguars secondary and planted themselves until they were thrown the ball. On a 55-yard pass to tight end Anthony Fasano, no Jaguars player touched him the final 40 yards to the end zone.
Tackling was a consistent weak area for the Jaguars a year ago. Early returns indicate it does not seem to be that much better this season, despite the concerted effort to make it a priority. Too many arm tackles and lunges resulting in nothing but air, have kept opposing drives intact.
Cornerback and defensive leader Rashean Mathis missed the team’s one-point loss to Miami and likely would have some difference, possibly even reversing the outcome. But Mathis is only one player and the other 10 starters didn’t fare particularly well in when it came to making stops.
It’s happened in camp, but not to the extent that it seems to occur in games thus far. Continued play like this will likely result in some high scoring Jaguars games this fall.
Offensively, the club has to be concerned about its running game, or lack thereof. There seems to be few holes created by the offensive line that has been hit with injuries to its bookend tackles of Eugene Monroe and Eben Britton. Certainly 14 and 54 total yards rushing in the team’s first two games respectively, is an indication that help is needed.
Britton should join Monroe in the starting lineup this week and chances are the Jaguars will put an emphasis on the ground game prior to the Tampa Bay game on Saturday. Maurice Jones-Drew is healthy as is backup Rashad Jennings but neither have had any openings in which to run through thus far.
The line play, especially the interior of the line, must improve for this third of four preseason games this Saturday. Anything less than totaling 100 yards on the ground will be deemed a disappointment.
Coach Jack Del Rio has harped throughout training camp that the offensive line is playing better and that the team is tackling better on defense. It’s time for the Jaguars to show improvement in both areas this week. The third week of the preseason generally spells increased time on the field for the starters. The Jaguars will need to show a different look in those two areas — offensive line and tackling — this week in order to put up some positive numbers. With all of the previously injured starters due back on the field this week, now is the time to turn the areas of concern into areas of comfort.
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