JACKSONVILLE – The search for answers continues.
It's true in multiple areas these days around the Jaguars – and it's true defensively this week regarding takeaways, an area that began the season as a team strength and has since become a mystery.
"We've got to be able to figure that out," Head Coach Doug Pederson said Monday.
The Jaguars through four games this season led the NFL with nine takeaways. They have not registered a turnover in the last three games and have just one during a losing streak that extended to four games with a 23-17 loss to the New York Giants at TIAA Bank Field Sunday.
"We're just not making the plays you've got to make," cornerback Tyson Campbell said. "The past is in the past. We've got this week as an opportunity to bring our turnovers back up. We're going to fix it."
The Jaguars narrowly missed two turnovers Sunday, with an offsides penalty on outside linebacker Josh Allen negating a fumble recovery by cornerback Darious Williams in the first half and a roughing-the-passer penalty on inside linebacker Foye Oluokun negating a third-quarter interception by inside linebacker Devin Lloyd.
"We've got to understand as players that we've got to do our best to create turnovers," Pederson said. "Sometimes they do come in bunches. But we've got to get back to what we did in the first part of the season, how we started the season with getting after the quarterback and creating turnovers and understanding what our players do best."
The Jaguars have registered two sacks in the last three games after registering nine in the first four. Rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker registered the team's lone sack Sunday with the Giants having lost two starting offensive linemen – including rookie right tackle Evan Neal – to first-half injuries.
"You would think you could get a little more pass rush there," Pederson said. "It's something we've got to take a look at and in situations like that do better. That's the chess match of football. You try to create these matchups when you can."
The Jaguars through seven games rank 15th in the NFL yards allowed. They allowed the Indianapolis Colts 434 yards in a Week 6 loss, with quarterback Matt Ryan throwing for 389 yards. They allowed 436 yards Sunday and 236 yards rushing, with running back Saquon Barkley rushing for 110 yards on 24 carries and quarterback Daniel Jones rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
"As a staff, we have to take a look at what we're doing gameplan-wise," Pederson said. "It's just like offense. If you're struggling offensively, a lot of times you try to pull back a little bit on the volume of information and try to free up your players mentally a little bit.
"Those are things we've got to address I think here in the next couple of days and see if we're doing too much."
Sunday marked the second time this season the Jaguars have struggled an offense with a quarterback capable of running effectively. They allowed the Philadelphia Eagles with quarterback Jalen Hurts 210 yards rushing as a team in a 29-21 Week 4 road loss.
"The one area we have to look at is obviously the quarterback and some of the quarterback runs with athletic guys," Pederson said. "Those are areas that we have to clean up on the defensive side. Knowing that that's their kind of game plan, just kind of focus in and lock in on that and try to win each down.
"There's a lot of different ways you can play defense there, so it's just all about the communication and understanding. This goes back to understanding your role, understanding the call, the nuances of different adjustments an offense might make that a defense has to make."
- Pederson on Monday addressed cornerback Shaq Griffin, saying the veteran corner will start when healthy. Griffin, a starter since signing with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the Seattle Seahawks before the 2021 season, missed Sunday with a back injury after committing two interference penalties and allowing a 32-yard game-winning touchdown pass with :17 remaining at Indianapolis. Veteran Tre Herndon started in place of Griffin Sunday, allowing a 32-yard touchdown pass on the game's first series. "Tre did a nice job," Pederson said. "Who knows as we move forward if he's going to have more of a full-time role there? We'll see where Shaq is this week. He [Herndon] plays good. He plays tough. He plays hard. I'm excited about him getting more opportunities." Pederson added, "If Shaq's healthy, you can't discredit that. Shaq's obviously the starter at that position, but Tre's done a nice job that if Shaq weren't able to go then obviously he would take that spot." Pederson said the team could be cautious with Griffin this week because of early travel involved with Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos at Wembley Stadium in London.