The Jaguars have clearly become one of the more talented defensive units in football over the last several months. They already had a fairly talented group on their hands in 2016 when they gave up the sixth fewest yards per game defensively. But while the foundation was built on the defensive side of the ball the unit still needed to improve. In 2016 the Jaguars rarely effected the opposing quarterback, and turnovers were hard to come by. With Barry Church now at strong safety the Jaguars have a rangey type guy that will be solid in run defense and also in coverage. The Jaguars signed one of the very best and most physical young cornerbacks in football with AJ Bouye, who will now play opposite Jalen Ramsey as the teams second outside cornerback. And the biggest signing (literally) was Calais Campbell. The 31 year old defensive lineman has the versatility to play strong side defensive end or bump inside and play the 3 - tech.
The starting D should now look like this
DE - Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell
DT - Malik Jackson, Abry Jones
LB (Base) - Myles Jack, Paul Posluszny, Telvin Smith (Nickel) - Myles Jack, Telvin Smith
CB (Base) - Jalen Ramsey, AJ Bouye (Nickel) - Jalen Ramsey, AJ Bouye, Aaron Colvin
S - Tashaun Gipson, Barry Church
While these signings have clearly made an already strong defensive unit even better, what might have gone unnoticed is the dominant (on paper) special teams unit the Jaguars are building.
The first step towards that end was bringing in special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, who is widely believed to be one of the very best in the business, and has familiarity with Jacksonville. Then the Jaguars re-signed special teams ace Arrelious Benn, who was believed to be the Jaguars first or second best special teams player in 2016. Then the Jaguars retained Peyton Thompson, who lead the team in special teams tackles a season ago. The first day of free agency (yesterday) the Jaguars were able to add two more special special teams studs. Calais Campbell has blocked several kicks through out his career. In 2016 he logged 160 special teams snaps (10 per game) and will likely continue his special teams dominance in Jacksonville. Then to top it all of the Jaguars added Lerentee McCray, the special teams dynamo from Buffalo, who has experience playing under Joe DeCamillis from his days in Denver. Finally the Jaguars brought back Bryan Walters, who at the very least is a competent punt returner. While these players provides some value as depth (except for Calais, his main value is still as a defensive starter, he just so happens to be great on special teams) at their regular positions on offense or defense they were brought here or brought back for one reason: to help create a dominant special teams unit. All of these solid special teamers combined with the legs of Jason Myers and Brad Nortman have the Jaguars set up to be one of the most improved special teams units in all of football in 2017 (on paper).
All of this is great, but the team still has proven nothing on the field and won't get the opportunity to truly show what they're made of until the beginning of September. But for now, the Jaguars look to have stellar defensive and special teams units. It appears that the Jaguars have everything to be a competitive team. The success of the Jaguars 2017 campaign will all come down to the maturation and improvement of signal caller Blake Bortles. This team may be able to carry him through some sub par performances, but in todays NFL teams usually go as far as their QB can take them.
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