By any and all accounts, the Jaguars defense made a tremendous turnaround in 2011. Last season, Jacksonville had the 28th ranked defense in the NFL and entering Monday night they moved all the way up to number four.
The reason for the vast improvement largely came in free agency, as Jacksonville upgraded the linebacking corps with Paul Posluszny and Clint Session, and added Dawan Landry and Dwight Lowery at safety. Add in John Chick and Matt Roth at defensive end and the defense was entirely revamped.
You can expect those numbers to plummet over the final four weeks of the season.
The Jaguars defensive resurgence was a great story but unfortunately it's ended due to an inordinate amount of injuries. Up front, Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu are playing hurt. Defensive end Aaron Kampman has played in just three games all season, starting cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox have been placed on injured reserve, as well as William Middleton. Linebacker Clint Session has been added to the ever-popular injured reserve list, as well as linebacker Kyle Bosworth and safeties Courtney Greene and Terrell Whitehead.
Even with all the injuries, the Jaguars refused to make excuses.
"We just have to ball," linebacker Daryl Smith said following the loss. "We did a pretty good job last week and this week it just didn't work out for us. It's just how it went."
In Monday night's game alone, the Jaguars lost defensive end John Chick with a knee injury that will likely cost him the rest of this season as well as safety Dwight Lowery. The 38 points that San Diego scored on Monday night wasn't an aberration, it was a case of the Jaguars simply not having enough qualified personnel on defense.
"It really doesn't matter who's on the field or who the head coach is, as a defense we just have to take pride in what we do and 38 points and explosive plays is not what he had in mind," Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said.
Ashton Youboty and Kevin Rutland started the game at cornerback for the Jaguars. Youboty was then replaced by recently acquired Morgan Trent. UCF grad Leger Douzable, normally a defensive tackle lined up at defensive end and Russell Allen was a starting outside linebacker. Those players wouldn't earn roster spots on 90 percent of NFL teams, much less be starters.
As much as the team wants to stand up and have accountability there are just too many missing parts to win with that defense and a terrible offense. Without their starting cornerbacks the Jaguars have to play more vanilla on defense and without their starting defensive ends opposing quarterbacks have too much time to pick apart those defenses.
Monday night's result wasn't a product of lost emotion or poor preparation. It was the more that the Jaguars ran out of bullets in their defensive weaponry, and their offense continued to play their inept brand of football.
To put it bluntly, we've probably seen the best football the Jaguars are going to play in 2011 and three wins might be all the team gets this year.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie
Too Many Missing Parts on Defense
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