JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jaguars have turned a weakness into a strength over the last three weeks. Since the bye week, the Jacksonville run defense is no longer a liability.
The adjustment has largely been due to an improvement by the team's interior defensive linemen.
The team traded for nose tackle Marcell Dareus during the Week 8 break from action.
Dareus has raised his play since joining the team. He has also brought out the best in starting defensive tackle Malik Jackson and nose tackle Abry Jones.
"It's been interesting," Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said Monday during a conference call with local media. "Since that bye week, I think all three players inside have been playing better than they had earlier."
Jackson has been the most improved member of the trio. Since the bye week, he has played at a very high level, producing eight tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
"I think Malik has really worked on straining, pushing, making plays in the run game," Marrone said. "Really working on the power aspect [of run defending]. He seems to be getting stronger as the year is going on."
Jackson is no longer listed on the injury report. He is seemingly recovered from a groin injury that slowed him down during the first half of the season.
Jones and Dareus have aided Jackson's resurgence with their play. Marrone said Jones has been making more plays since the bye week and his rotational role with Dareus has worked out so far.
With all three linemen playing well, the Jaguars are holding opponents to just around 55 rushing yards per game. That's a stark reduction from the 138.5 rushing yards per game allowed during the first seven weeks.
"Obviously, Marcell and Abry had about the same amount of snaps in the [Browns] game," Marrone said. "Malik played a little bit more because of the two-minute and nickel situations, so I'm happy with the combination and with how all three of those guys are playing inside."
A date with Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson looms large this week for the Jaguars. However, the recent work of their talented interior line trio should have the team feeling more confident about the Week 12 matchup.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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