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Jags won't tinker with defense


The Jaguars will remain in the 4-3 defensive alignment to which they returned in Sunday's 24-21 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

"Our plans are not to tinker and go back and forth," coach Jack Del Rio told reporters at Monday's press conference. Del Rio was speaking of the decision he made last week to abandon the 3-4 defense the Jaguars had played through the first seven games, and return to the 4-3 scheme that was the Jaguars' base defense through Del Rio's first six years as the team's coach.

"I don't think there's a huge difference, 4-3, 3-4. What we're asking them to do inside is fairly similar. What we're asking the outside guys to do is to put their hand on the ground, be a little more aggressive and charge. I feel like our guys were excited about what we did," Del Rio said.

What the Jaguars defense did was an about-face from the previous week, when the Jaguars allowed a franchise-record 305 yards rushing. Against the Chiefs, the Jaguars were on their way to their best defensive performance of the season until the Chiefs rallied for two long touchdown drives after the outcome had been decided.

Linebacker Daryl Smith got the defensive game ball for his performance, which included a team-leading eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries. Defensive tackle John Henderson got an attaboy from Del Rio for a sack, a tackle for a loss and two hurries.

Wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker got the offensive game ball and Montell Owens won for special teams. Guard Vince Manuwai and Tyron Brackenridge got mentions.

The change to the 4-3 put Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves on the field together at the defensive end positions for one of the few times since they were drafted one-two in 2008, ostensibly to be the Jaguars' pass-rush combination of the future.

Asked to comment on their performances, Del Rio said they were "OK. Harvey remains a rugged guy that's very difficult to run against. He was part of the rush. (Groves) provided some speed off the edge a little bit."

The defense, ranked 23rd in the league, is thought to hold the key to whatever postseason hope the Jaguars have. It must improve over its performance through the first half of the season and Sunday's effort offers hope.

"What we saw yesterday was the swarming. That's what we're after. How they're deployed is really secondary to the attitude," Del Rio said.

The schedule is such that even a team in rebuilding can entertain thoughts of being a playoff contender. The Jaguars haven't played a team that currently has a winning record since week three of the season, in Houston, and won't play another one until Dec. 6, when the Jaguars host Houston.

Dead ahead is a game at Giants Stadium against the 4-4 Jets. The winner will remain a playoff contender; the loser will fade. Do the Jaguars have enough talent on their roster to be a playoff contender?

"We're going to find out. If you ask Maurice (Jones-Drew), he'd say absolutely. He thinks we're number one in the league," Del Rio said, referring to his star running back's ultra-optimistic viewpoint.

"This organization took a very bold step in the offseason, trying to do as much as we could this year, instead of spreading it out; purging our roster," Del Rio said. "Our best football needs to be in front of us. There's not been a lid placed on our year. Why would any team do that? I'm going to say the sky's the limit; it's up to us. We're going to find out because we play a lot of good teams in the second half of the season."

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