Jaguars defense eager to return to form against Titans
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Malik Jackson thanked the San Francisco 49ers for giving Jacksonville’s defense an ”awakening.”
A rude awakening, really.
The Jaguars (10-5) allowed 369 yards, including 131 on the ground, 44 points and 10 third-down conversions in a humbling loss on the West Coast.
All of it, Jackson said, will provide motivation for the defense moving forward.
”If you don’t learn anything from your failures, then they’re truly that: Just failures,” the Pro Bowl defensive tackle said Wednesday. ”We’re going to fix it. That’s what good teams do. … I know we’re going to be a better team for it.”
Jacksonville’s lackluster performance against the 49ers created some concerns about what had been the league’s top-ranked defense. Jimmy Garoppolo used a variety of misdirection and bootlegs to pick apart Jacksonville’s secondary with quick throws, and the Jaguars were gouged on the ground for the fourth consecutive week.
San Francisco’s success prompted a heated exchange between Jackson and cornerback Aaron Colvin on the sideline in the first half and caused several more meltdowns late , including a costly, 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Jackson in the closing minutes.
”It was disappointing because I understood the damage I did to the team,” Jackson said. ”I try to go out there and play with high intensity, play with a high motor and play with dog relentlessness, and I let the best get to me and I let my emotions get the most of me and pretty much lose the game for my team.
”I’m glad it happened now. I’m glad I can check myself now and see what I need to do better and just get better with my attitude and my leadership.”
The Jaguars have a chance to rebound from the loss in the regular-season finale at Tennessee (8-7) on Sunday. It’s an opportunity to potentially knock the Titans out of playoff contention and rebuild some momentum heading into the franchise’s first home playoff game since the 1999 season.
Defense has been the backbone of the team’s resurgence.
Jacksonville has held eight of 15 opponents to 10 or fewer points, which is one reason players insist last week’s game was more of an anomaly than cause for concern.
”We always want to play great,” Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye said. ”Sixteen games in the NFL, everything’s not going to be perfect. We’re not always perfect as a team or even on defense. One thing about it is we always bounce back and we learn from our mistakes.
”We’d rather it happen now that in January when the playoffs come.”
Jacksonville is locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs and will host Baltimore, Buffalo, the Los Angeles Chargers or Tennessee on Jan. 6 or 7.
The Jags don’t want to head into that sold-out home game with consecutive losses. They haven’t dropped back-to-back games all season, showing resiliency after every loss.
Coach Doug Marrone has no plans to rest starters against the Titans, saying the team is ”100 percent all in on winning this football game.”
Defensive players welcomed the mantra, especially after their latest performance.
”We’re the best defense in the National Football League, and everybody knows it,” safety Tashaun Gipson said. ”It’s not about going out there and getting back on track. It’s really just about going out there and being us again. I’m very confident that we’re going to do it.”
When told his team actually dropped to second in scoring and third in yards, Gipson responded: ”How did we drop to third?”
Well, the debacle in San Francisco did it.
”We’ll go back (to No. 1) this week,” he said. ”Slight work. No worries.”
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL