With Sunday’s 31-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, in a game which wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated, the Jaguars’ record fell to 1-9. They are the first team in NFL history to start 1-9 for three consecutive seasons.
Anyone who believes that there’s a “quick fix” to the Jaguars problems or if they are one or two players away is sorely mistaken.
Of all of the Jaguars issues on both sides of the ball, the position that has really stood out to be an enormous problem has been at free safety. Jonathan Cyprien has been serviceable at the strong safety position, but far too many times this season he was found himself taking bad angles, missing tackles or has just been out of position.
Cyprien’s mistakes could be tolerated easier if the free safety position was playing at an NFL level, which it clearly isn’t. Winston Guy began the season as the starter and was waived after a Week 4 loss to San Diego.
Second-year safety Josh Evans has stepped in and he has taken too many poor angles, too many blown coverages and too many missed tackles.
Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell gave a glass half-full report about Evans and the young secondary.
“Josh Evans didn’t start the year as a starter but has done a really nice job of staying in his lane and doing his job,” Caldwell said prior to the team’s loss in London. “Those guys are coming along. I think towards the end of this year hopefully they continue to improve.”
The reason that the safety position sticks out like a sore thumb above all the Jaguars deficiencies is that the team simply can’t compete against teams with legitimate passing attacks or deep threats.
Jacksonville has been blown out in six of their 10 games this season. Philadelphia, Washington, Indianapolis, San Diego, Miami and Dallas all have legitimate quarterbacks (although Kirk Cousins played much of the Week 2 game) and in those games the Jaguars allowed 210 points for an average of 35 points per game.
The way the Jaguars safeties have played this season equates to a virtual 11-on-10 advantage for the offense. Jaguars defensive coordinator Bob Babich has done the best job he can do to try and minimize the deficiencies on the back end, but offenses are designed to exploit favorable matchups. With the NFL rules catering to the passing game, playing 10-on-11 football as a defense will lead to more of these blowout losses.
Is there help on the way?
Unless the secondary magically gets better with age and experience, the simple answer is no. There are some veterans who will be available in free agency, but often times you have to manufacture someone else’s player that another team didn’t want to play into your own treasure, usually by overpaying.
Some of the names to keep an eye on for the Jaguars are Marcus Gilchrist, Patrick Chung, Quentin Demps, Stevie Brown, Danieal Manning, Nate Allen and Louis Delmas.
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