In 2016 the Jaguars finished with the sixth best defense in terms of total yards allowed. In terms of run defense the team allowed just 3.8 yards per carry - good enough for 7th in the NFL. Of course, the defense gave up quite a few yards on the ground with teams trying to close out the Jaguars in the second half of games. The point is that the Jaguars run defense was stout in 2016.
To this point in the preseason the defense has been far from from stout.
In week one, against the Patriots, the Jaguars weren't at full strength up front as they were missing the newly acquired defensive lineman Calais Campbell. Still, the team gave up 116 yards rushing and allowed the Pats to average four yards per carry.
In week two Calais Campbell returned as the Jaguars took on the Buccaneers. The expectation was for the Jaguars defense to tighten up - they did the opposite. The team gave up 130 yards on the ground to the Buccaneers.
In week three, traditionally the most important week of the preseason, the Jaguars defense faced Cam Newton and the dangerous Panthers rushing attack. Again, the Jaguars allowed their opponent to eclipse the century mark rushing, allowing 120 yards on 29 rushing attempts.
The team has given up an average of 122 yards a game on the ground this preseason - the 9th worst mark in the entire NFL.
Do the preseason struggles mean the Jaguars will undoubtedly struggle with run defense in 2017?
Absolutely not. But, it should be a concern. The Jaguars have too much talent and depth in their front seven to not be one of the better run defenses in football.
If the Jaguars go on to have a great defense in 2017 we'll look back at this preseason and think of it as a period where the defense was growing chemistry and adjusting to all the new pieces.
If the opposite happens we'll remember this preseason as the beginning of a very, very disappointing season for the Jaguars defense.
My guess? The Jaguars defense will end up being a top 10-12 unit in terms of stopping the run. They may struggle, a bit, to start the season, but by seasons end this Jaguars run defense and defense as a whole will be a well oiled machine.
Will it be enough for the Jaguars to be competitive in the AFC South in 2017? Time will tell.
Are you concerned with the Jaguars run defense, or lack there of, to this point in the preseason? Let us know in the comments below.
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