Jaguars Mailbag: Is it time to look elsewhere for pass rush help? How can the running game improve?

The Jaguars fan base has a lot of questions following the team's Week 1 loss to the Green Bay Packers. The contest offered a mixed bag of positive and negative, which has led to a lot of speculation.

This week's mailbag features questions about the running game, the pass rush and Myles Jack.

@WillZajan asks: Is it time to admit the Jaguars need better pass rush and sign a guy like Greg Hardy?

Mike Kaye: The pass rush isn't a total loss, but I understand the panic. Listen, the Jaguars struggled to create pressure during the preseason and Week 1, which isn't a great sign. However, Gus Bradley and Malik Jackson admitted the game plan against Aaron Rodgers was to go into contain mode. Instead of forcing the pass rush and letting Rodgers run all over them, they decided to keep him in the pocket. It's always a "pick your poison" situation against the Packers offense.

Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue had as many sacks as high-profile free agent Olivier Vernon had in Week 1. It happens. You're not going to get a sack every game in the NFL. That said, I thought both played well against the run. I thought Ngakoue had a particularly strong game against the Green Bay running attack.

At this point, you'd better be desperate if you're bringing in a guy like Greg Hardy, who is a public relations issue without even taking the field. Hardy wasn't signed after a workout so the Jaguars clearly weren't blown away by him. After the preseason and just Week 1, I think the Jaguars are still a ways away from being desperate. 

The pass rush has a good matchup against the San Diego Chargers in Week 2. Phillip Rivers is more of a pocket quarterback and the contain issues won't really be there. The Baltimore Ravens also feature a pocket quarterback in Joe Flacco. Both of those guys can pick up yards with their feet but they aren't Rodgers. If the defensive line fails to create pressure in those games, then maybe you look elsewhere.

 

@Jagzrul75 asks: When does Myles Jack get playing time on defense?

MK: I think you'll see Jack get more involved as the weeks go on. He is learning two positions (MIKE, WILL) and that's a lot to put on a rookie, especially one that stayed away from Jacksonville throughout minicamp.

Allowing Jack to learn and grow as a player will help the Jaguars immensely, especially if there is a major injury. He has to be able to handle one of those two roles. He seems more comfortable at WILL, so perhaps he can spell Telvin Smith when he needs rest. He should see some nickel snaps relatively soon.

 

@DevinLamarr asks: How can the running game improve?

MK: Vision is a very big part of the running game. While the offensive line wasn't dominant in the run game, I do think T.J. Yeldon missed seeing some holes in the Packers defense. there were holes that weren't noticed by T.J. Yeldon against the Packers. The Jaguars will continue to build trust in the offensive line and the running backs as time goes on, but in these early stages - especially without Chris Ivory - they have to take advantage of opportunities. 

Yeldon looked like he did last season against the Packers. He doesn't appear to be a guy that can effectively take the load on by himself throughout an entire game, and honestly, most running backs in the league can't be the sole back. It's just not practical with the game's speed and punishment. Denard Robinson needs to step up with Ivory out of the lineup.

As simple as it sounds, Ivory's return will greatly help Yeldon and the entire running attack. 

 

@Glide26 asks: Will the Jaguars start off 0-4?

MK: In short: I don't think so.

I think the next three games are winnable. The Jaguars have always struggled against the Chargers and are headed out west which is always tough, but I think this is a better team than in past years. The Jaguars played the Chargers tough last year and I think they could sneak into Qualcomm Stadium and steal one on the road. 

The Jaguars beat the Ravens last year, but Baltimore is in better shape at this point. Baltimore is traveling to Jacksonville, so perhaps the heat will play a factor in giving the Jaguars the advantage. I think the Jaguars can win at least one of the next two games.

I also think the matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in London is very winnable. The Jaguars secondary is better and should be able to tame the Colts wide receivers if they are on their 'A' game. 

I think the Jaguars start off 1-3 at worst in the first quarter of the season and I think they will likely be 2-2 heading into the bye week.

Follow Mike Kaye or ask him your questions at @Mike_E_Kaye.


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