Meet this week’s Chargers opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars
By Jack Wang
The league’s best defense might have just gotten better.
Jacksonville already looked playoff-bound for the first time in a decade, thanks to a punishing defense that ranks first in the league in sacks (35.0) and third in takeaways (16). The Jaguars have playmakers all over the field, from Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell to linebacker Telvin Smith to cornerback Jalen Ramsey. This is a unit that has only allowed 117 points this season; no other team has given up fewer than 131, and nearly half the league has surrendered at least 180.
They might have just fixed their biggest weakness. Less than two weeks ago, the Jaguars (3-5) traded for former Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, taking on his considerable contract with hopes that the 27-year-old can still regain his former All-Pro form.
While Jacksonville’s pass defense has been dominant all season, opponents could usually find room to maneuver on the ground. In their three losses, the Jaguars allowed a total of 577 rushing yards. Dareus only played 12 snaps in his first appearance with his new team last Sunday, but his three tackles helped Jacksonville hold the Bengals to just 29 rushing yards.
The Chargers are the next team that must account for the 6-foot-3, 331-pound defender, and Anthony Lynn knows what to expect. Before being hired as head coach, Lynn was in Buffalo, where he had to plan for Dareus in practices as the running backs coach — and later as the offensive coordinator.
“I don’t need to see a lot of film on him,” Lynn said. “I saw him up close and personal for two years. I know he’s a hell of a player.”
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