Defensive end Reggie Hayward is sympathetic to fan complaints about the Jaguars' tackling.
"The key is, honestly, to tackle," Hayward said when asked about improving the team's defensive play. "That's our key right now. Offenses are going to make plays. You try to limit those plays. We just need to tackle and get people on the ground."
Coach Jack Del Rio wasn't satisfied with his team's tackling in last Saturday's 24-23 loss to Tampa Bay in preseason game number two. Thursday, in Philadelphia, the Jaguars will try to tackle to the ground the player who, a few years ago, was the symbol of elusiveness.
The return of Michael Vick is the national storyline for the Jaguars-Eagles game three of the preseason. The Jaguars, however, have their own storyline: Are they capable of being competitive with a team that is considered to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender?
"I don't know why we wouldn't," Hayward said when asked if he believes the Jaguars can be a playoff contender this season. "We're coming back off last year and that experience. We're ready to play hard and get some wins under our belt."
Hayward does not ascribe to the theory that the Jaguars are in a rebuilding year and, therefore, losing should be expected.
"That's the mentality of a loser. Who comes in thinking they're going to lose games? I don't want him on my team. In my mentality, I think we're going to win every game," Hayward said.
One of the subplots to this preseason is the Jaguars' experimentation with defensive schemes. The team played a lot of three-man fronts in the preseason opener in Miami. Against Tampa, however, the Jaguars played their standard four-man front. What will they use against the Eagles?
"We know what we are and what we're capable of doing," defensive end Quentin Groves said. "It's something we're holding inside and we'll unleash it when it's time."
"All we have to do is find what our role is," said Hayward, who has even been used as a tackle in certain situations. Versatility, it would seem, is the calling card of Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker, who Hayward said "is one of those player's coaches you can relate with.
"It's the start of the preseason. The starters have gotten three quarters of work in two games. It's still early. Just give us a little time. The sacks will come," Hayward said of the Jaguars defense's one sack through two preseason games.
"First of all, our defense is very vanilla. We're not throwing the whole game plan at teams. We need to save it for the regular season," he added. "Play solid football. Let's start with mistake-free football. Let's tackle, run the ball, pass the ball. Let's steal a play every once in a while and let's win one."