Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Jaguars' Run Defense Will Be Tested

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Jaguars' Run Defense Will Be Tested

Article excerpt

They are calling them the Sacksonville Jaguars in northern Florida, and for good reason.

The Jaguars lead the NFL with 18 sacks, 10 of them in a season-opening victory in Houston and another five last week against the New York Jets. And they generate that pressure from a four-man defensive line that has accounted for 78 percent of the sacks.

Leading the charge -- literally -- is defensive end Calais Campbell, a two-time Pro Bowl selection with the Arizona Cardinals who signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the Jaguars in free agency in the offseason. He had four sacks in his Jaguars debut and leads the team with 5 1/2.

Those sacks have helped the Jaguars intercept five passes and return two fumbles for touchdown, part of the 10 turnovers they have forced in four games. Only the Baltimore Ravens and Detroit Lions (11) have more takeaways.

"This is a good defense that's very disruptive," said Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. "If you let them get going in that area, as far as disrupting the ball and creating turnovers, it's going to be a long day."

Three defensive ends account for the majority of sacks for the Jaguars -- Campbell (5 1/2), Yannick Ngakoue (4), who leads the NFL with three forced fumbles; and former No. 1 pick Dante Fowler (3), the first defensive player selected in the 2015 draft.

Their pressure allows inside linebacker Paul Posluszny (Hopewell, Penn State) and rookie outside linebacker Myles Jack, their No. 1 pick in 2016, to make a lot of tackles. At least, ideally.

The problem is that opponents have been able to run the ball against the Jaguars, who have the league's lowest ranked rush defense. In fact, the Jaguars are the only team in the league that allows more yards rushing per game (165.5) than passing (147).

"It's very early in the season right now so statistics aren't adding up to the true defense," said left tackle Alejandro Villanueva. …

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