The Jaguars entered their week eight bye week playing tremendous football on the defensive side of the ball.
Even though they've played one less game than many of their competitors in the NFL the Jaguars are dominating several team defense stats. They lead the league in sacks with 33 - six more than any other team in the NFL. And they're on pace to break the NFL single season sack record held by the '84 Chicago Bears. Calais Campbell, who has ten sacks in seven games, is on pace to break the NFL single season sack record by an individual. His running mates Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. are among the league's leaders in sacks. Malik Jackson has been able to get more pressure from the middle in recent weeks. The Jaguars pass rush is one of two in NFL history to have multiple double digit sack games in a season.
But the stellar defensive line is only one aspect of the Jaguars special defense. On the back end the Jaguars have the two highest graded cornerbacks in football with AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. In between their two lock down CBs the Jaguars have playmaking safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson. Aaron Colvin plays some of the best nickel CB in the NFL. The secondary, combined with the dominant defensive line, and two of the most athletic linebackers in football (Telvin Smith and Myles Jack) has the Jaguars looking like one of the best defenses of all time. They're first in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (161.7), third in interceptions (10), fourth in forced fumbles (9), second in turnover differential (+8), and tied for the league lead in defensive touchdowns (4).
A weakness? Yep, despite being a dominant defensive unit the Jaguars have shown a major weakness on tape - stopping the run. In their three losses the Jaguars have allowed an average of nearly 200 yards per game on the ground.
While Jaguars fans and beat writers were clamoring for the Jaguars to make a trade to improve the team's offense prior to the October 31st trade deadline, the Jaguars brass decided they would attempt to make a great defense even better.
Enter Marcell Dareus. The Jaguars traded for the two time Pro Bowler and 2014 First Team All-Pro on Friday night. In order to acquire the beastly defensive tackle the Jaguars only had to surrender a sixth round pick. Dareus was rumored to have a less than positive relationship with the Bills management. The Bills were likely happy just to clear up some cap space and unload a player that wasn't all too happy.
Many have reported that Dareus' play has declined as of late - he's certainly not playing at an All Pro level, but he is playing very well. According to Pro Football Focus Dareus is actually playing better than any of the Jaguars interior lineman and is a major upgrade for the run defense. He's a force against the run and can still have an impact as a pass rusher. At only 27 years old, and with four years left on his current contract, Dareus could be a mainstay on the Jaguars defensive line for years to come. He'll line up as a starter in base personnel for the Jaguars alongside Malik Jackson.
The addition of Dareus will almost certainly improve the Jaguars run defense. His shear size (6'3'', 331 lbs.) and strength will make it much more difficult for offensive lines to create big holes up the middle. With Dareus set to enter the Jaguars starting lineup Abry Jones will likely see a lot less playing time for the remainder of the season.
The Jaguars defense was already on pace to set several NFL records and will be fondly remembered league wide. But with the addition of Dareus is seems likely that the Jaguars defense could be remembered as one the very best to ever do it.
Who was Dareus' head coach during his magical 2013 and 2014 seasons? You guessed it! Doug Marrone.
The Purple People Eaters, the Steel Curtain, the Orange Crush, the Monster of the Midway, the Killer B's, Legion of Boom - move over! Sacksonville is here to stay.
Do you think the Jaguars defense can go down as one of the best of all time? Let us know in the comments below.
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