Veterans on Jaguars' defense speak out about mistakes made against the Jets' running game

The New York Jets' running backs ran wild on the Jaguars' defense Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire combined for 256 rushing yards in Week 4. The alarming total was aided by two runs of over 69 yards. Both big runs ended with touchdowns.

Powell and McGuire were able to burst through the Jaguars' defense and take advantage of the unit's lack of cohesion.

DOWNLOAD: The free First Coast Football App for stats, scores, analysis, stories and more

"That's football," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "You let good players get a crease because you make a mistake, they'll make you pay and that's what the Jets did. They made us pay for our mistakes."

The Jaguars paid with yards and points in the 23-20 overtime loss.

Prior to the game, Jacksonville's defense hadn't allowed a running play to gain 20 or more rushing yards. Against the Jets, the unit allowed three runs of over 33 yards.

"A couple of mistakes early on gave them a lot - the 75-yard run and the 69-yard run - that's the bulk of the yardage and the rest of it they grinded out over a lot of carries," Campbell said. "When it comes down to it, it's just mistakes."

The Jaguars' defense did well limiting the run in Week 1 and Week 3. However, the loss to the Jets brought back memories of Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry streaking down the field in Week 2.

While the running game results were similar in both of the Jaguars' losses this season, the running styles couldn't have been more different.

Henry is a one-cut, north-to-south runner, while Powell and McGuire are of the shifty scat back variety.

The duo's speed and ability to cut multiple times in small spaces made the Jaguars' mistakes even more glaring.

"There's a couple of different things," safety Barry Church.

"We'll find out for sure when we watch film, but we're a one-gap defense so it's going to be easy to see what the problems were when we see the film. But I feel like [the Jets] had a good scheme for us and the running backs were able to cut back and make a couple of guys miss, including myself, and we've just got to be better tacklers and be more disciplined when it comes to the running game."

Both Church and Campbell believe discipline is needed when playing against the run. The Jaguars had several players take poor tackling angles and some seemed be out of position from the start against the Jets' running backs.

It also didn't help that a lot of the tackling opportunities came in the open field. The Jaguars defenders were forced to tackle as individuals and not as a group.

"I don't feel like we were gang tackling as a whole," Church said.

"I feel like as a defense, we tip our hats on everybody running to the ball, swarming to the ball and making it so it's not one-on-one, because the majority of the time, if it's one-on-one on an open field tackle, the offense has the advantage. We pride ourselves on running to the ball and getting there as a group and punishing the runner but I feel like this past game was a lot of solo, one-on-one tackles. It was tough and they were some shifty running backs. They were able to make a lot of people miss, including myself, and make big gains off it."

Church and Campbell are veteran leaders on the Jaguars' defense and both believe they can bounce back from the mishaps against New York. Church makes it sound like the solution is relatively simple.

"As a whole defense, we've just got to hustle to the ball a little bit better," Church said. "Make it so it's not just that one-on-one tackle and we're back to punishing opposing teams, which we can get back to and I know we will get back to."

The Jaguars' run defense will face a true test in Week 5. The team will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers at Heinz Field.

The Steelers have running back Le'Veon Bell, who is among the elite players at his position. Campbell believes the Jaguars' performance against the Steelers will serve as a measuring stick for their potential success.

"You lose two games in a row," Campbell said. "Good teams don't lose two games in a row. We've got a tough matchup coming up and you just dive into this matchup and make sure we're focused and more disciplined in our game plan. When we do it right, we've shown we can beat anybody. We can compete with anybody."

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment