Jags Saw Major Improvement Defensively

On Friday night, the Jaguars defense more closely resembled the units of the mid-2000's when they were led by current Falcons head coach Mike Smith than the one that was shredded routinely a season ago.

The Jaguars figure to play their starters in the second half of the third preseason game at Buffalo Saturday night.

And they are hoping they will see continued improvement from a unit that gave up 419 points last year.

The starting defense - minus defensive end Aaron Kampman, who is rehabbing a torn ACL, and linebacker Clint Session, who was out with a concussion - played the first half against Atlanta Saturday night and showed some positive signs against Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who they will face in the regular season.

They held Ryan to 7 of 15 for 116 yards, but 76 of those yards came on a touchdown pass to Harry Douglas that was caused by a miscommunication between two new free-agent acquisitions - middle linebacker Paul Posluszny and nickel back Drew Coleman.

And while the Jaguars didn't get any sacks, they did put pressure on Ryan.

They also held the Falcons to a field goal when the offense gave up a pair of turnovers in Jaguars' territory.

"I thought there were some encouraging things in terms of physically. We responded well early to adversity defensively on a couple of drives that started on the plus side of the field and held them to three points. It was good to see and with the exception of that one play they got on us, we played pretty well in the first half," coach Jack Del Rio said.

The Jaguars kept the Falcons in check on third down, stopping them five of seven times on third down in the first half.

Except for the touchdown pass, the Jaguars allowed only 64 total yards on 23 offensive plays.

On the touchdown pass, Coleman said, "It was a miscommunication between me and Paul. It's like I said something that we both get throughout practice. It's just something that's got to take over practice to the game. I think we're going to get back to the drawing board and it won't happen again."

Coleman said, "We came out this weekend, the main thing we were focusing on was knowing our assignments and playing fast. They (coaches) want us to play fast."

Of the pass rush that was a problem last year and got pressure but not sacks, Del Rio said, "I thought you felt their presence a little more. We had some opportunities, but again there is still some learning that is going to go on. The guys are going to see where they had an opportunity to take a better angle, don't bite on the fake or whatever it might have been that kept us from closing the deal. But there was some decent pressure. The quarterback wasn't sitting back there feeling comfortable," he said.

Now the next test is to see if they can do it again against Buffalo Saturday night.

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