The Jacksonville Jaguars kept investing in their defense, with high picks and expensive contracts, and it seemed like at some point it all had to click. They collected too much talent on that side of the ball to never produce any results.
It finally clicked on Sunday. Maybe it was just a one-week aberration against a shaky Houston Texans team that made the questionable decision to start Tom Savage at quarterback, but the Jaguars looked like one of the best defenses in football in a 29-7 win. They’ll get a chance to show off that impressive defense when they play the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 24, a game that will be streamed by Yahoo Sports.
Through one half, the Jaguars allowed 46 yards and had six sacks, forcing Texans coach Bill O’Brien to bench his starting quarterback just two quarters into the season. Defensive end Calais Campbell, the team’s latest huge free-agent investment, set a franchise record for sacks in a game … in the first half. Campbell had 3.5 sacks before halftime.
The Texans might not be a great measuring stick for the Jaguars defense. Houston looked bad on offense most of the day. Savage played like everyone except O’Brien assumed Savage would, and the offensive line clearly missed left tackle Duane Brown, who is holding out. But this was an impressive display for the Jaguars.
If the defense can play this well, the offense won’t need to do that much. And Jacksonville’s offense at least looked passable. Blake Bortles didn’t do much, completing only 11 passes for 125 yards, but that will be Jacksonville’s plan this season. Leonard Fournette had a good NFL debut, with 100 yards and a touchdown. After the Texans got some momentum with a Deshaun Watson-led touchdown drive to start the second half, the Jaguars’ offense had an immediate and impressive response, scoring a touchdown to push their lead back to 26-7. A knee injury to receiver Allen Robinson wasn’t good news, but Jacksonville overcame it Sunday.
The Jaguars defense wasn’t going to allow three more touchdowns in the second half. Campbell played a great game. Pass rusher Dante Fowler, the third overall pick in 2015, had perhaps his best day as a pro. The Jaguars have exceptional cornerbacks, good safeties, depth at linebacker and a strong front line. There’s no glaring weakness.
It took a while for the results to match how much money and how many picks the Jaguars poured into the defense. The breakthrough finally came in Week 1.
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