Jaguars have no quick fix for ineffective defense

Published Dec. 7, 2015 9:03 p.m. ET

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars probably can't make any defensive tweaks that will help this season.

They have to wait until the offseason to make needed changes.

So if the Jaguars (4-8) are going to win any of their four remaining games, beginning Sunday against Indianapolis (6-6), they're going to have to overcome an inept pass rush, poor tackling and average coverage skills.

''It's all about rush and cover,'' coach Gus Bradley said Monday. ''Right now, we're not putting that together. If we need to send more guys in pressure, it's hard for us to hold up with the coverage. If we're playing the extra guy in coverage, then we're not getting the pressure that we need. That's really the hard thing right now that we're looking at and trying to figure it out.''

Making matters worse in Jacksonville, Bradley said his team missed 16 tackles in a 42-39 loss at Tennessee on Sunday.

Those were most evident in the fourth quarter, when safety Sergio Brown bounced off Dorial Green-Beckham and allowed a 47-yard touchdown reception and then several defenders failed to get a hand on quarterback Marcus Mariota during an 87-yard scoring run.

''We've got some good players, and right now we're not playing fast,'' Bradley said. ''I think that's what we need to take a look at more than anything.''


The Jaguars, who gave up 73 points in consecutive losses, also might have to look at replacing middle linebacker Paul Posluszny. The team's second-leading tackler broke his right hand in the final minutes against the Titans.

If Posluszny does end up on injured reserve, it would be the second consecutive year he finished the season there. He missed the second half of 2014 with a torn chest muscle.

Bradley said Jordan Tripp would replace Posluszny if he can't play against the Colts.

The last time Posluszny missed a game, Tampa Bay ran for 183 yards. That was the first of several defensive lapses for Jacksonville, which has allowed 29.3 points a game in the last eight games.

''It's very difficult'' to be consistent, defensive end Jared Odrick said. ''I think that's why we're in the position that we're in and I think that's why we're credited as much as we are when things do go right because it is difficult. I can't necessarily pinpoint why, and I guess if I were able to pinpoint why, we wouldn't be in this situation.''

A lack of pass rush has been the biggest issue. Veteran defensive ends Chris Clemons and Andre Branch have a combined four sacks, and Bradley has been reluctant to give backups Ryan Davis and Chris Smith more playing time or even a starting shot.

''In some situations we feel good about the guy behind him stepping in and playing and bringing that, and in other situations we may not feel as strong as making that change because of the situation,'' Bradley said. ''So that's our job.''

In Bradley's defense, general manager Dave Caldwell hasn't really addressed the defense during the team's three-year rebuilding project. Instead, Caldwell has spent most of his picks on the offensive side of the ball. And the results show.

Blake Bortles threw for 322 yards and a franchise-record five touchdown passes against the Titans, breaking the single-season TD mark. He now has 27, four more than David Garrard's previous mark set in 2010.

And Allen Robinson caught 10 passes for 153 yards and three scores, becoming the team's first 1,000-yard receiver since Jimmy Smith in 2005. Robinson's 11th touchdown grab also broke the franchise record.

The defensive woes at Tennessee overshadowed those record-setting performances.

''We can get it right,'' Bradley said. ''Those guys in there understand that and they know we've got to get it right.''

NOTES: The team placed running back Bernard Pierce on injured reserve with a calf injury and signed linebacker Joplo Bartu. The Jags also signed linebacker Sean Porter to the practice squad, filling out the 10-man unit.


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