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Going into the 2023 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars offense was what held the national spotlight. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, wide receiver Calvin Ridley and running back Travis Etienne Jr. were set to lead one of the most electric offenses in the league.
But the Jaguars’ defense has been the difference maker through the first two weeks.
“They’re playing physical — that’s something that is the pride for the defense right now,” Jacksonville head coach Doug Pederson said Monday. “Two weeks in a row, they’ve kept the offense in the game. They did it in Indy until the offense caught wind at the end of the game and then all day [Sunday], they did the same.”
The Jaguars held the Indianapolis Colts to 21 points and the Kansas City Chiefs to 17. The 38 total points allowed through the first two games of the season — 19 points per game — are the 10th lowest total in the NFL.
Outside linebacker Josh Allen racked up three sacks in the season-opener against the dynamic Anthony Richardson. Safety Andre Cisco picked off Patrick Mahomes and racked up 10 total tackles against the Colts. And linebacker Foye Oluokun and safety Rayshawn Jenkins have shown an ability to make plays on ball carriers in the open field.
Pederson singled out Allen, Cisco, Jenkins and outside linebacker Travon Walker for their individual efforts. But it’s the combination of their play that’s paying dividends.
“That’s just a credit to the scheme, what [defensive coordinator] Mike [Caldwell] is doing, utilizing the personnel this year,” Pederson said. “You’re seeing Travon and Josh up their game a little bit on the edge. The secondary is more in-sync this year; just the communication has been better. They’re playing faster, they’re stymying the run and shutting that down.”
Defensive lineman Folorunso Fatukasi also credited Caldwell for helping the team improve in his second season as the team’s defensive coordinator.
“He’s continuing to do what he needs to do,” Fatukasi said. “He’s giving us every opportunity for us to continue to be in the right positions.”
Fatukasi said the defense had its share of good and bad moments against the Chiefs but said the team is focused on working out the kinks.
“It’s just really more about the defenses gelling even more together, talking more, getting our eyes and hands right, being more technically sound,” he said. “If we get those things together, it turns out a little smoother.”
Jacksonville forced three turnovers and allowed only 17 points, but still lost Sunday. Pederson stressed following the gameplan and putting the offensive players in the best position Monday following the loss.
“The defense kept us in this football game,” Pederson said. “We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to execute. We got too many guys on offense, veteran players that we all need to do better, starting with me.”
Originally posted on Jaguars Wire