With Tyson Alualu scooting outside to the defensive end position, the only returning defensive tackle to the 2013 Jaguars defense will be the elusive D’Anthony Smith. As mentioned before, Gus Bradley’s new scheme is not your father’s defense.
Instead, it will infuse hybrid formations, concentrating on generating pressure from the edge rushers and outside linebackers. The interior defensive linemen’s job will be to hold their point while attempting to collapse the pocket from the inside out.
General Manager David Caldwell hasn’t exactly made a “splash” in free agency this offseason, but he filled some major holes across the Jags defensive front, especially after letting defensive tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton walk one year removed from his bar incident.
The Jaguars defensive will undoubtedly rely on these new acquisitions to stop the run as well as free up lanes for the rushing linebackers and defensive backs behind them.
Of the signings this offseason, fifth year tackle Roy Miller seems to be the anchor and most notable of the defensive tackles. Miller signed with the Jags after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers let him test the waters of free agency, plugging the chasm along the trenches.
At 6’2” and 310 pounds, Miller will be relied on to play the role defensive tackle Red Bryant played under Bradley in Seattle’s defensive last season. Like Bryant, Miller will have the responsibility to plug and hold two-gaps while frequently lining up head-to-head with the center, yielding a battle of brawn and pure strength.
Experience on a winning team is an underestimated trait when making waiver acquisitions of any kind, but former Patriots defensive tackle Kyle Love may have benefited from it this offseason. Love saw action in every game during 2013 while making eleven starts in New England’s heavyset rotation.
The tackle hungry Jaguars lunged at the opportunity to grab Love off of waivers after his sudden release by the Pats earlier this offseason, adding more depth and (you guessed it!) competition to the defensive side of the ball. Love will likely battle for playing time alongside and in relief of Miller.
Sen’Derrick Marks fits one of the many themes that the Jaguars seem to be sticking to in the midst of their rebuild and that theme is youth. At 26 and after four seasons of average play which were hampered by injuries, the former Tennessee Titan would seem to fit nicely in the one gap next to Miller. Weighing almost twenty pounds less, Marks will find a place on this roster by getting consistent penetration through offensive linemen while showing flexibility at every position along the defensive line.
Plagued by injuries, D’Anthony Smith has become more folklore than football player over his four year stint with the Jags. One has to think that if he’s found a way to hang around on the roster for this long, there has to be potential.
The coaching staff must see some bright flashing lights in practice that must have been overshadowed by the constant lightning storms we north eastern Floridians have grown oh-so accustomed to, no?!
We may have a better chance finding a pot of gold at the end of a double rainbow at Jaguars home games this season then Smith in the starting rotation, but dreamers can dream.
The most intriguing prospect of this entire group was overlooked during this past draft because he was overlooking everyone else.
At 6’7” and 345 pounds, there wasn’t one team who thought T.J. Barnes could fit himself on to an NFL roster until the Jags quickly plucked the mammoth man out of rookie free agency.
While Barnes statistics out of Georgia Tech weren’t overwhelming, he battled his way in to the starting rotation by his senior year after being redshirted in 2008. If he can improve his footwork, which should help his speed, Barnes could potentially become one of the baddest kids on the NFL block.
Projected Starters: Roy Miller with Kyle Love and Sen’Derrick Marks rotating the one-gap.
Linebackers are up next, as we mourn the loss of the Jaguars all-time leading tackler Daryl Smith and ask the question: Can Russell Allen evolve from cleat filler to elite?