Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Turnovers Lead to Turnaroud; in Their Four Victories, Opportunistic Jaguars Have Plus-Seven Ratio

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Turnovers Lead to Turnaroud; in Their Four Victories, Opportunistic Jaguars Have Plus-Seven Ratio

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

Jaguars defensive end Andre Branch joked after Thursday night's 27-20 victory over Houston that fellow end Ryan Davis' new nickname was "The Closer."

Davis sacked Texans quarterback Matt Schaub for an 18-yard loss on the game's final play to help secure the victory. He also intercepted a pass in the first meeting against the Texans on Nov. 24 with 40 seconds left to preserve a 13-6 win.

The nickname is fitting, but the Jaguars defense as a group has been closing on its opportunities for turnovers lately. The Jaguars (4-9) have won three consecutive games and four of five overall to start the second half of the season largely because of turnover margin.

"We're starting to jell," said Branch, who has three sacks in the last four games. "It's a process, but things are coming together. We're going to just keep going forward."

The defense has forced 10 turnovers in the four victories combined. In those games, the Jaguars are plus-seven. In their nine defeats, the Jaguars are minus-nine.

The Jaguars forced two turnovers in Thursday's contest - cornerback Alan Ball and linebacker Geno Hayes both picked off passes.

"It's good because we talk in terms that they'll come in bunches," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "It's nice to see that now in a couple of games they feel that. It gives them the mind-set to say, 'Let's stick to this and trust that it's going to happen.' I think it validates that part of it as well."

Hayes credited Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich's scheme with putting him in the right place to make his pick. Schaub threw to Andre Johnson on a hook route. Hayes dropped into coverage and was in the direct line of Schaub's pass. The interception gave the Jaguars the ball with 2:08 left, allowing them to run out the clock.

"The play came right to me," Hayes said. "That's the culture that's been created and you're starting to see the results. Guys are stepping their games up and making the plays they are supposed to make."

That was a problem earlier in the season. The Jaguars picked off three passes in their first eight games. Two were by middle linebacker Paul Posluszny.

The secondary had to become more of a factor in making game-changing plays. …

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