JACKSONVILLE – They dance. A lot.
If you've watched the Jaguars' defense this season, you have noticed it – and after they dance, they swarm, tackle, sack and talk … oh, how they talk.
But something else about watching these Jaguars play defense …
Yes, they're good. And yes, defense is a major reason they're 6-3. But mostly, when these Jaguars play defense they just look like they're having … well, a whole lot of fun.
"How could I explain it for fans? It's everything you see on TV," linebacker Myles Jack said as the Jaguars prepared to play the Cleveland Browns (0-9) at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, Sunday at 1 p.m. "It's crazy how talented we are."
Finding that explanation was the goal of this View from the O-Zone. I wanted to know, from the players who play in this defense, how it felt when the defense is at its best – in moments such as late in an overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers this past Sunday when group is playing at such a frenzy that it seems the opponent will never score.
Those moments are real, and they're memorable.
"The crazy thing is, you can see it on the other team's face," Jack said. "When we're sacking them, you can see it on the quarterback's face: he's not looking at reads, he's looking down at his offensive line. We can feel it."
That's what it's like when this group peaks, and this group has peaked a lot:
*Ten-sack games at Houston and Indianapolis.
*A five-interception game at Pittsburgh.
*A 31-yard second half against Cincinnati.
Those are rarified statistics, but surely the feeling must be better than statistics, right?
"Remember when you were in school, and you got one of those half days?" defensive tackle Abry Jones said. "But like one of those half days when you didn't do nothing in school to begin with? It feels like one of those."
Jones tried again: "Or like that one time you asked your mom to stop at McDonald's and she actually gets you the food? It's like that. It's just an overall good feeling."
That McDonald's feeling? It comes from success, but also the fact that the players on this team not only like playing, they like playing with each other. Between the biggest plays at the most important moments, players can be seen waving their arms, dancing to the music in the stadium – and even dancing with each other.
"That's the kind of defense we have," Jack said. "It's cool. It's definitely fun."
That's camaraderie and friendship. And you can't fake it.
"It's a dream, you know what I mean?" linebacker Telvin Smith said. "You just see a bunch of guys embracing it, and living it to the fullest. These are a bunch of guys playing for each other, not playing for themselves. Individually, we make plays, but we make those plays for the guys next to us and I think that's what makes it more special than anything."
That feeling has fueled the Jaguars to the league lead in sacks, to the No. 3 overall ranking in total yards. They lead the NFL in pass defense, and they have allowed fewer points – 134 – than any team in the NFL.
But statistics don't explain the feeling, when players on Wednesday searched for an explanation, they focused mostly on an energy that comes from 11 players playing as one. That feels like a cliché when written, but it doesn't sound like a cliché when players talk about it.
"It's just a great feeling knowing you've got 10 other guys other than yourself that you know are flying full speed to the ball," Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue said. "It's a mentality of, 'Who's going to make the play?' Because we know somebody's going to make the play."
A confession before we close: The search for the explanation – the idea behind this View – proved largely elusive. The feeling of adrenaline and frenzy proved too much to put into words.
Smith, as talkative and confident as any Jaguars defensive player, struggled.
"You don't feel it when you're going through it; you're just doing it," Smith said. "It's something that we just do. Maybe years from now, when I look at tape, I might say, 'Damn' – like when I look at [his playing days at] Florida State now. When I look at how we played there, I say. 'Yeah, we did some incredible stuff.' In the moment, it's tough."
Jack, too, struggled for words to adequately express the feeling.
"When we're on, we're all on the same page," he said. "I can't explain it."
Jack did find the words that probably explain it better than any:
"It's as fun as it looks, man. Times ten."