In the wake of this weekend’s debauchery against the Carolina Panthers, it will be easy to focus solely on the problems that occurred on offense for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The botched snaps, uber-conservative play calling and horrid clock management. It’s all anyone wants to talk about and it’s understandable why.
But Jacksonville’s third-straight solid defensive performance cannot be overlooked.
The Jaguars gave up 16 points to a fairly explosive Carolina offense on Sunday and held the Panthers to just 265 yards.
That means the Jaguars have held opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense every game this season.
Simply put, Jacksonville’s defense has been nothing short of spectacular early on in 2011, which comes as a bit of a surprise. The Jaguars fielded one of the worst defensive units in the NFL last year and turned to free agency to fix some glaring holes.
Jacksonville five starters: linebackers Paul Posluszny and Clint Session, safety Dawan Landry, defensive end Matt Roth and nickel back Drew Coleman. The Jags also traded for safety Dwight Lowery, who has cracked the starting lineup too.
Aside from a nice showing against the Atlanta Falcons, the new-look defense struggled in the preseason and early signs pointed to the Jaguars having another dreadful campaign.
But the Jaguars have gelled.
As a cohesive unit led by strong, run-stuffing front four and solid linebacker play, the Jaguars have turned into one of the best defenses in the league.
Jacksonville ranks fourth in the NFL in yards allowed (280 per game,) fifth in run defense, seventh in pass defense and seventh in touchdowns allowed.
The only major hindrance to Jacksonville’s defense has been the team’s offense. The Jaguars have given up 20.7 points per game, which has the team ranked a respectable 13th. That total would be significantly better if Jacksonville’s offense was able to sustain drive and pout points on the board.
Case in point, the New York Jets beat Jacksonville 32-3. The Jaguars’ defense allowed only 283 total yards and held tough for most of the game, but the team’s inability to move the ball (203 yards) gave the Jets enough opportunities to capitalize.
While Jacksonville’s 1-2 start has to be disappointing to fans, the team’s defense at least creates reason for optimism. Led by defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, the Jaguars are a force to be reckoned with on defense. They play a physical brand of football and have done an excellent job avoiding big plays.
Jacksonville will get its first real test of the season when Drew Brees and the high-powered New Orleans Saints come to town.
Now if team’s offense has to get on the same page, the Jaguars might have a chance at the playoffs.