The Jaguars have been struggling for a myriad of reasons this season.
Take your pick:
Blake Bortles doesn't look like a functional NFL QB. He's failed to complete 60% of his passes in a game since week four.
The running game? What's that? The Jaguars have attempted an average of just 12.5 running back rushes during their recent four game skid.
The receivers can't catch a cold. 23 dropped passes is seven more than any other team in the NFL this season.
The run defense has been in a slump, too. Last week the Jaguars gave up 133 rushing yards to the Eagles in London. The week before? 141 rushing yards to the Texans in Jacksonville. In their blowout loss to the Cowboys the week before the Big Cats gave up 206 yards on the ground.
And the turnovers just haven't been their for the once vaunted Jaguars defense. They're tied for 21st in the NFL with just seven turnovers forced.
So, how on earth can the Jaguars hope to get back to their winning ways?
They must stop the run and in turn run the ball themselves.
The fulcrum of this defense's success was getting off the field on third down last season. When they were able to force teams into third and medium to long situations it was virtually impossible for opposing offenses to move the ball with any consistency. But this year the Jags haven't been able to force many third and long situations, thanks in large part to their lack of ability to stop the run on first and second down. Defensive coordinator Todd Wash should get back to more press man coverage on the outside. Let Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye handle their business, while the front four and the linebackers worry about the run on first and second down. Of course the players have to make plays. Far too often have the Jaguars defenders missed tackles in 2018. The Jaguars have missed an average of over six tackles per game this season and no matter what Todd Wash does scheme-wise, if the players don't make plays things wont turn around for the Jaguars run defense.
On offense the Jaguars led the league in rushing last season, but this year not only have they not been able to run the ball, they haven't even been trying to. After the loss in London, in which the Jaguars only attempted eight rushes with running backs, Doug Marrone commented on a lack of confidence in the guys up front. But the Jaguars offensive staff must re-commit to running the ball. With Leonard Fournette expected to return after the bye and the addition of Carlos Hyde via trade, offensive coordinator Nate Hackett should feel much more comfortable with calling run plays early and often. The combo of Fournette and Hyde should carry the ball no less than 30 times per game moving forward. If Leonard Fournette can stay healthy there is reason to believe the running game can turn things around, but they'll need the hogs up front to start getting more push. The Jaguars two best run blockers, Cam Robinson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are both lost for the season due to injury, but Jermey Parnell, Brandon Linder and Andrew Norwell are all more than capable of being plus guys in terms of getting push. They've got to start playing with more aggression and more continuity.
If the Jaguars hope to get this BOAT turned around they'll need to tighten up against the run on defense and actually try to run the ball on offense.
Can they do it? Of course.
Will they do it? Only time will tell.
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