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Jaguars will remain flexible


Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker would appear to be in the process of converting the Jaguars from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense, but that could change from week to week.

"I prefer what works. I don't favor one over the other. At the end of the day, the bottom line is did you win or not?" Tucker told reporters on Thursday, as the Jaguars continued preparations for Sunday's home opener against the Arizona Cardinals.

Tucker has coached in both schemes. Head coach Jack Del Rio is a 4-3 traditionalist, but something about the Jaguars' personnel caused Del Rio to make the move toward the 3-4.

So what is it about the Jaguars' personnel that caused the switch? It was likely born of the team's defensive line concerns, and those concerns peaked this week with the loss for the season of Reggie Hayward, the Jaguars' best all-purpose defensive end.

Tucker wouldn't reveal how the Jaguars will compensate for the loss of Hayward and what lineup changes the team will make. Defensive tackle Atiyyah Ellison has been moved into Hayward's place on the depth chart at left defensive end. It's also possible the Jaguars could move Derrick Harvey to a down-end position and put Quentin Groves in Harvey's stand-up position. Any and all variations will likely be used.

Some will say the multiplicity of this defense will cost the Jaguars an identity. Others might say flexibility will, in fact, become the Jaguars' identity on defense.

"What I can tell you is we put our package together to utilize players the best. I feel we have the guys to get the job done. We just need to improve," Tucker said.

The Jaguars traded away three draft picks (two thirds and a fourth) to move up and select Harvey with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft. It was thought he was selected to be the star pass-rusher the Jaguars needed to make it to the Super Bowl.

"If people want to see, just because of where he was selected, want to see the sexy sack monster, that's just not what he is. What we have is a good, solid, tough defensive lineman. Let's appreciate what he is and stop worrying about whether he measures up to some standard that's been established by somebody besides me, Gene Smith or his teammates," Del Rio said on Wednesday.

"I'm just a football player, all the way around," Harvey said. "Good football player, solid, that's it; watch film, practice hard, play on Sunday, that's it."

Harvey, however, would seem to be the key man in Tucker's defensive scheme because Harvey remains the player on whom the Jaguars rely to get pressure on the quarterback. He appears to be the featured player in the scheme.

"Derrick has some pass-rush ability. Only time will tell how many sacks and pressures he gets. We like him," Tucker said. "Our identity is based on the intangibles, being tough, smart, technique-sound. That's what we're working to."

Harvey and Groves provide the flexibility that could become the defense's identity. They can each play with their hand on the ground or in a standing position; they can each rush or drop into coverage, which is probably the reason Del Rio has opted for the switch to the 3-4.

"When you have a package that has flexibility, you can decide what the best way is to hold (opponents) to a low number. In order to be successful, we have to make sure the quarterback is not comfortable in the pocket. We have to make them one-dimensional and we have to get off the field. We struggled to get off the field on third down," Tucker added, referring to the eight conversions in 14 third-down tries by the Colts last Sunday.

"It's one day at a time for us, in terms of our development," Tucker said.

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