The Jaguars have a run a 4-3 defensive scheme for much of their existence as a franchise. That won't change in 2017, but things will look far from the same.
When head coach Doug Marrone spoke with John Oehser of jaguars.com on Tuesday he confirmed what we had all suspected: The Jaguars will in fact be running a 4-3 scheme.
While the Jaguars scheme will still be a 4-3, it's unclear what variation or variations of a 4-3 scheme they will run. Things are so complicated in the NFL now on the defensive side of the ball that one team could be running a 4-3 that looks nothing like another teams version of the 4-3 defense.
What will look the same?
The Jaguars will still have four down lineman in most situations. There will be two defensive ends (Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell) on the edge with their hands in the dirt, a nose tackle (Abry Jones), and a 3 technique (Malik Jackson) in base situations. In clear passing situations things will also be primarily the same. Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler will be lined up on the edge with their hands in the dirt and Malik Jackson will still be lined up inside, the only difference is the mammoth Calais Campbell will be lined up next to him on the interior.
There will still be 3 linebackers in base situations (Myles Jack, Paul Posluszny, and Telvin Smith).
There will still be two safeties in base (Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church).
And there will still be two cornerbacks in base (Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye).
So what exactly will be different for the Jaguars defense in 2017?
For one the safeties won't be nearly as predictable. Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church aren't entirely dissimilar as players. While Gipson excels more in coverage and Church excels more in run defense the Jaguars will use them somewhat interchangeably. One play Gipson might be lined up closer to the line of scrimmage with Church in the deep middle; On the next play they could both be lined up deep and split the field; On the next play Church could be lined up in the box with Gipson playing the deep middle. The point is these two players have versatility - something the Jaguars safety group lacked in 2017. With the exodus of the strictly box safety John Cyprien and the arrival of Barry Church the Jaguars can now be multiple in their safety alignments, which will allow them to be more creative and be much less predictable for offensive play callers trying to scheme against them.
While the Jaguars have "3 starting linebackers" only the weak side and middle linebackers have truly been starters in the past, with the strong side linebacker playing only sparingly. IF the Jaguars continue in that direction then Myles Jack will likely play strong in base situations and perhaps middle in nickel sets.
With AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey locking down the outside receivers the Jaguars may be able to be more creative with certain blitz packages.
With two dominant 3 techs in the middle in clear passing situations the Jaguars will likely be able to create a much stronger interior push to get QBs off their spot in the pocket. This should allow edge rushers Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler to hit home more often.
Things certainly won't look entirely different, and to most fans the Jaguars defensive scheme won't look different at all. But there will be subtle differences.
For fans of the Jaguars the hope is that those differences in scheme and personnel will lead to more sacks and more turnovers.
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