George Pickens: Jaguars have a ‘hope defense’ against the pass

The Jacksonville Jaguars defense has earned a lot of praise for its strong start in 2023. Apparently, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens isn’t impressed, though.

On Thursday, a reporter asked Pickens in the locker room to explain why the Jaguars have “one of the worst pass defenses” in the NFL this season. The Steelers receiver said Jacksonville’s defense is built around its defensive line and just “hopes” its secondary can do enough to get a stop.

“With their team having a lot of first-round guys on that [defensive] line, that’s what they depend on a lot,” Pickens said, via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “They kind of hope, you know what I mean? Hope the guys hold up long enough. Hope. So it’s kind of a hope defense, for sure.”

It’s true that the Jaguars have given up a lot passing yards, allowing the second most in the NFL this season and 964 in the last three weeks. Jacksonville also had double-digit leads in the first half of all three of those games. That caused the Jaguars defense to face one-dimensional, pass-heavy attacks from teams trying desperately to claw back.

Derek Carr and Gardner Minshew finished with 55 pass attempts each against the Jaguars in their losses in the last two weeks. Both quarterbacks eclipsed 300 yards and both left frustrated with their respective performances.

Analytics actually think highly of the way the Jaguars pass defense has performed so far in 2023. The team ranks sixth in DVOA — a stat that measures efficiency compared to the league average in similar situations — against the pass.

The Steelers are 25th this season in passing yards and quarterback Kenny Pickett has five touchdowns with four interceptions.

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire