The Jaguars made it a point this offseason to get more depth along the defensive front.
A big reason for that?
The Jaguars D-Line was gassed in the final quarter of play against the Patriots in the 2017 AFC Championship. As the Patriots came back from a 10 point deficit the Jaguars saw their pass rush fall flat. Sure, Marcell Dareus got a fourth quarter sack, but on the next play the Jaguars failed to get pressure and allowed one of many long third down conversions. The Jaguars front office and coaching staff realized that their stars on the defensive line needed to have more energy late in the the season and late in games.
The Jaguars defense was a juggernaut during the regular season, but during their three game playoff stretch the "Sacksonville" defense was much less impressive. In their 16 regular season games Jacksonville registered 55 sacks (3.4 per game), but in the playoffs they registered just 7 total sacks (2.3 per game). Even more alarming: the pass defense went from allowing a league low 169.9 yards per game through the air in the regular season to allowing nearly 300 passing yards per game during the playoffs.
The Jaguars defense was exhausted.
Instead of taking an offensive player in the first round of the 2018 draft, which prognosticators and fans both predicted, the Jaguars took a versatile DE/DT in Taven Bryan.
The Jaguars are now very deep along the defensive line and should be ready to take down the Patriots in Jacksonville during their week two matchup.
The Patriots have a decent offensive line. They drafted offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn in the first round of this year's draft, but he suffered an achilles injury and will be out for the season. So the Patriots have Trent Brown at LT, who played well in week one, especially in pass protection. At their two guard spots the Patriots will deploy Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney, both of whom played well in pass pro last week. And at center for the Pats is David Andrews, another solid pass protector. The Patriots have a nice pass blocking offensive line.
But can they slow down the Jaguars pass rush again?
The Jaguars now have the deepest D-Line, and one of the most potent pass rushes in football.
At strong side defensive end the Jaguars have All-Pro Calais Campbell, who recorded 14.5 sacks last season and is off to a strong start in 2018. Behind Campbell the Jaguars have Taven Bryan and Dawuane Smoot, both of whom are more than capable.
At the three technique the Jaguars have Malik Jackson, who may have been the most disruptive defensive tackle in the league during week one and was a Pro Bowler in 2017. Behind him is rookie Taven Bryan.
At nose tackle the Jaguars deploy former Pro Bowler Marcell Dareus. He's an excellent run stuffer and has the ability to get after the passer. Their depth at this position is fantastic with Abry Jones, a former starter, who is one of the better backups DTs in football.
Jacksonville's most explosive position along the defensive line is weak side defensive end. Yannick Ngakoue is a budding star. He led the league in forced fumbles last year and recorded 12 sacks. Behind the Jaguars have Dante Fowler Jr., who put up 10 sacks in 2017 (including the playoffs), and Lerentee McCray, who dominated the pre season this year and was able to sack Eli Manning in week one.
The Jaguars depth along the defensive line will be key. The Patriots will look to sustain long drives, but if the Jaguars defensive line can stay fresh throughout this one, they should be able to slow down Tom Brady and create pressure throughout the game.
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