Skip to main content

Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars -

Defense will decide fate


The focus is on defense and what the Jaguars do to fortify their defense will likely determine the team's fate in 2010.

Coach Jack Del Rio's comments at this week's owners meetings in Orlando confirm the need for improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Fans may be thinking about Tim Tebow, but Del Rio is thinking about pass-rushers and linebackers and safeties. Those are the critical positions on this team.

"I thought, for the most part, we just really had a poor year defensively and I feel like defensively we've got to play better," Del Rio told reporters during Tuesday's breakfast-with-the-coaches session.

  • Let's start with problem number one: missed tackles.
  • Problem number two, the lack of a pass-rush, is believed to have been the cause of problem number three, a 27th-ranked pass-defense.

"The pass-rush was anemic last year. It was near record-low for the league. I think it was Jaguars record-low," Del Rio said.

It was, coach, it was. Fourteen sacks won't get you into the playoffs.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Del Rio, the former linebacker, was critical of his team's play at linebacker last season. While the finger of criticism often pointed at safety Reggie Nelson last fall, it may not have pointed often enough at a linebacking corps that underachieved.

"Daryl Smith is the one guy that has really been consistent, really been a good performer for us. Daryl has the ability to play inside or outside, so that gives us some flexibility in terms of how we approach it. I think Justin Durant has flashed and had moments where he's really been special, but he hasn't been consistent enough. He needs to really have a strong offseason. Weight fluctuations were an issue. Clint (Ingram), after having one of the stronger offseasons I can remember … didn't have a real strong year. We'd like to make sure we have competition," Del Rio said of his linebackers.

What we're talking about, folks, is a makeover on defense. We're talking about the need for a young, pass-rush lion, new blood at linebacker and, certainly, help at the two safety positions. All of this, of course, falls onto the shoulders of General Manager Gene Smith. Can he satisfy all of those needs in this draft?

You didn't expect an answer, did you?

If he did answer, however, he'd probably tell you this year's draft is deep on defense. It has intriguing pass-rush prospects in Jason Pierre-Paul, Derrick Morgan, Brandon Graham and others. It has mouth-watering safety prospects in Eric Berry, Taylor Mays, Earl Thomas and others. It has big-time linebacker prospects in Rolando McClain, Daryl Washington, Sean Lee and others.

How those players come off the board and whether or not GM Gene is able to trade down and acquire an extra pick or two, will likely determine to what degree the Jaguars' defense will recover in 2010.

"We've got work to do. We've got to play better on defense and that's obvious, but we will," Del Rio said. "We're going to go back to an attacking 4-3 front. We're going to go back to more tight coverage. We're going to be aggressive in how we're going after people. That's what we've spent the offseason discussing."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content