Jaguar Defense Needs Improvement

With the emergence of David Garrard at quarterback, the solid 1-2 punch of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew at running back, an improved showing from the wide receivers and a solid effort from the offensive line, the emphasis for improvement falls with the defense for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars had posted top 10 finishes in total defense the previous two seasons but fell to 12th in the league in overall defense last year. The defensive-minded Del Rio wants that number to improve. It starts with pass defense where the Jaguars finished a disappointing 11th in the AFL. Getting scorched for nearly 600 yards by Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and New England's Tom Brady in the postseason only stressed the importance of shoring up this area.

The two biggest areas of concern are finding help from the defensive end spots in applying quarterback pressure and improving the play at the safety positions. If not for a banner year by 32-year old Paul Spicer, the Jaguars would have gotten little production from the end spots. Reggie Hayward doesn't seem to have the same zip he exhibited before his season-ending Achilles tendon injury in the season-opener in 2006. Bobby McCray needed a big season on the eve of his becoming a free agent but it didn't happen.

Safeties Sammy Knight and Reggie Nelson are at opposite ends of their career and it showed at times. Knight has played 11 seasons in the league and was inserted into the starting lineup when Gerald Sensabaugh went out with a season-ending shoulder injury in mid-September. Nelson was a first-round draft pick and while he showed potential, he missed far too many tackles.


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