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Jags must tackle better


Jack Del Rio used Monday's press conference to emphasize the need for his team's defense to improve its tackling and cited poor tackling as the major reason the Jaguars allowed the Tennessee Titans to record their first win of the season on Sunday.

"We took our lumps yesterday and we took them again today when we saw the film. As coaches we have to do a better job and our players have to do a better job," Del Rio said in his opening remarks on Monday, a day after accepting responsibility for a loss that included the worst run-defense in Jaguars history.

"As a defense, we've got to be able to get (Chris Johnson) on the ground. It wasn't anything schematic, it was just leverage and tackling," Del Rio said.

Johnson rushed for 228 of the Titans' 305 yards rushing. Both are Jaguars opponents records. Johnson scored on runs of 52 and 89 yards, the latter on a third-and-four play at the Titans 11-yard line with the Titans holding a 23-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Reggie Nelson moved from safety to cornerback to replace the injured Rashean Mathis and Nelson was targeted by the Titans, in both the passing and running games.

"Yeah, he had a tough day. He's one of the guys who struggled with the tackling part of it. For him to continue to play, he's got to play better. He understands that," Del Rio said.

The big question confronting Del Rio is: How does he improve his team's tackling?

"Short of live tackling, which is being considered," he said, his voice trailing off, then adding of live tackling drills in practice: "You can't do that."

"It comes down to guys understanding how to leverage the ball and keep their feet. We do spend time on it, believe it or not. It's really what's kept us from playing a lot better defense," Del Rio added.

Poor tackling appears to be a league-wide epidemic, yet, no one seems to know why tackling has become a lost art or how to fix it.

"I don't have a good answer why it's widespread. We're not alone," Del Rio said. "If you're going to be any good on defense, you have to be able to shed a block and tackle."

The Jaguars coach was asked if he thought any of his players shied away from contact.

"If I ever felt that about a guy, he wouldn't play for me," he said. "It's pretty simple. Keep your head up, see what you're hitting and run through it."

Del Rio said running back Maurice Jones-Drew should've gotten more rushing attempts than eight and that quarterback David Garrard had audibled to pass plays a few times during the Jaguars' streak of nine consecutive pass plays to open the game. At one point the instruction was, "Look, just hand it to him and let him run with the ball," Del Rio said.

Defensive linemen Terrance Knighton and John Henderson and linebackers Daryl Smith and Justin Durant were credited for having played well on defense, but Del Rio stopped there.

Del Rio was also asked if he'll consider a switch back to the 4-3 from the 3-4 the Jaguars are currently playing. "It really didn't have anything to do with the number of men in our front," he said.

Fortunately for the Jaguars, professional football players are above hard-scrabble, midseason tackling drills as a form of punishment for bad tackling.

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