John McKay might've said, "We didn't rush or cover well, but we made up for it by not tackling," but for Jaguars Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker, it's no joking matter.
A Jaguars defense that last year was last in the league in sacks and was known for bouts of poor tackling is being challenged in a major way to change all of that this season. For starters, the Jaguars will practice tackling every day in training camp this summer.
"We'll do some type of tackling every day in our individual periods. That'll be an emphasis for us," Tucker said following Thursday's OTA practice.
Tucker's defense intercepted a couple of passes in team drills in what was an especially spirited practice on Thursday. It concluded with gassers under a furious sun.
"We had trouble getting off the field on third down and it was due to the rush and the coverage. Our tackling wasn't as good," Tucker said in capsule review of last season.
The Jaguars also had difficulty settling on a defensive scheme. They began the season in a 3-4 look but returned to their 4-3 scheme at midseason when it became apparent they lacked the personnel to effectively play the 3-4.
So how will the defensive philosophy change this season?
"Our 4-3 package is what we're going to lead with," Tucker said. "Our front is going to be more aggressive. We're going to play the run on the way to the quarterback. Our coverage is going to be tighter and the combination of that with a better rush will help us get to the quarterback."
When the emphasis isn't on better tackling, it'll be on sacking the quarterback, which would seem to have been the focus of the team's offseason acquisitions. Defensive end Aaron Kampman was acquired in free agency and the Jaguars' first four draft picks are defensive linemen, the first three of which are expected to address the team's pass-rush.
"We have competition at all positions. There's nothing set in stone. This is a production business. I think that's going to make the entire group better," Tucker said.
Young defensive backs Don Carey and Michael Coe each intercepted quarterback David Garrard on Thursday. Carey is playing at cornerback in place of the absent Rashean Mathis, who missed his ninth OTA practice. Only five practices remain.
"My focus is on the guys here. The guys that are here are making improvement. Carey is improving. His conditioning has improved. The pads aren't on, yet. We still have to see more from him," Tucker said.
More will be expected from everyone.