2016 has been a great offseason for the Jags. With a nice mix of high value free agents and smart draft choices, the Jags are on the right path to success. The area of the team with the highest level of investment is none other than the Defensive line, and they will be put to their greatest test come Sunday night against the Bengals
The Jags have recorded one sack this entire preseason from their starters. Yannick Ngakoue sacked Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick week one and the team recorded zero on Jameis Winston against the Buccaneers. The Bengals have a Pro Bowl left tackle in Andrew Whitworth, and consistently rank among the top 5 offensive lines in the NFL. If Andy Dalton has the time in the pocket, he will pick apart this Jags secondary. If this team can’t put pressure on the quarterback in three quarter of the third preseason game, imagine what Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Andrew Luck will do during the regular season. The key for this defense is to not only pressure the quarterback, but to do so with out blitzing.
With such a heavy investment in the defensive line, the Jags need to be able to get to the quarterback without blitzing. That’s how the Broncos won the super bowl this past year; it’s how the Giants beat the Patriots twice. Telvin Smith and Myles Jack are the future at the linebacker position for the Jags, and both of them are more coverage line backers compared to pass rushers. Going against some of the top quarterback/receiver duos this year, the Jags will have to spread the field on defense. If they can pressure the quarterback without blitzing, the Jags can put more players in the secondary.
The Jags will begin this year with new starters at defensive end and tackle. Though the talent is certainly there, the on field experience is not. The Jags struggled against the Bucs suspect offensive line, and they will have the Bengals stout offensive line for three quarters this Sunday night. Winning football games always starts in the trenches, and this Jags team will have to go to war in the trenches in order to get their hands on Andy Dalton.