- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We can’t say the Jaguars defense didn’t get enough credit for its fine play in 2011. The big goal is to play a big role in winning games, and Jacksonville only did that five times.
Still, finishing sixth in total defense with the injuries the Jaguars had was an impressive feat.
Six starters missed time, with nine defenders who would have seen regular time in at least situational packages ending the year on injured reserve.
But total defense is about yards, and games are about points.
To me, third-down efficiency and points allowed are bigger indicators of a defense’s performance. Jacksonville was 15th in third-down defense and 11th in points allowed. There is room for improvement in both categories for sure.
The influx of free-agent talent did a lot for his coaching ability last year, but I like high-energy coordinator Mel Tucker. His on-field enthusiasm is contagious.
I like the attitude of much of his roster of players.
And while this team isn’t going to the Super Bowl, I think its defense could be one of the surprise stories in the league.
“We’re just getting the troops ready,” defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. “I think it’s going to be a special group of guys that’s going to roll. We’re six now and we want to get to No. 1. That’s our goal: No. 1 defense in the world.”
Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny is a little less concerned with the rankings, but just as optimistic.
“I think we should be a lot better than we were last year, just based on more time together, having most of the same guys and being able to improve on our techniques and a lot of the things we want to do,” he said. “All I know is we should be able to play at a higher level than we did last year.”
It should be a defensive football team.
But I wouldn’t expect any of the primary veteran offensive players to say so, in effect handing over the keys.
“We want it to be both,” tight end Marcedes Lewis said. “It’s our job on offense to complement the defense and vice versa. Obviously our defense is rolling right now and that’s going to make things better for us.”