Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Three and out Is Jaguars' Goal Defense Works to Cut Conversions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Three and out Is Jaguars' Goal Defense Works to Cut Conversions

Article excerpt

Normally, the statistic is called third-down efficiency. The

Jaguars' defense added a bold D in 1997, changing it to

third-down deficiency.

The Jaguars finished dead last in the NFL in third-down defense

last season, a number that understandably is not too pleasing to

coach Tom Coughlin or his players.

"We have to get better there," Coughlin said. "You have to get

people off the field on third down."

"Our statistics were awful," middle linebacker Bryan Schwartz

said. "If you don't get people off the field and get the offense

out there, you're struggling."

Jaguars' opponents converted 102-of-226 third-down plays last

season, a 45.13 percent conversion rate. The league average was

37.23 percent. The importance of third-down defense is best

illustrated by the fact the Denver Broncos, the Super Bowl

champions, led the league in third-down percentage at 31.25

percent.

That poor showing in 1997 came after finishing second to last

in the league in third-down defense in each of their first two

seasons.

It's no wonder the Jaguars have made getting teams off the

field the No. 1 defensive priority this season. It has been

pounded into the heads of the defensive players from the

beginning of camp.

In the preseason opener against Carolina, it didn't appear to

have sunk in yet. The Panthers converted 7-of-17 third downs for

41 percent in their 30-27 victory.

"It makes you upset and it gets you angry," Schwartz said of

the third-down woes. "The bottom line is we have to get a better

mentality to get people off the field. When you let people

convert third downs, it can really be demoralizing to a

defense."

"When you get to third down, you want to pin your ears back,"

defensive end Jeff Lageman said. "All of sudden they complete a

pass, that takes the wind out of your sails a little bit."

How can the Jaguars accomplish the task?

"More pressure, cover better," Coughlin said. …

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