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Jaguars defense answers call in win over Colts

(Associated Press)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After giving up 72 points in their last two outings the Jaguars defense was in desperate need of the type of performance they put up against the Colts on Sunday. The 16 points they held Indianapolis to was only the third time they’d held an opponent under 20 all season.

“I think it was important after, like I said last week, it wasn’t our A game in the Tennessee game,” said coach Gus Bradley. “I really liked how they bounced back. They had a good week of practice, you could feel it from them. It was important, yeah, because the work they put in during the week. To see that come to fruition on Sunday was good. That part, I’m appreciative of. I think it was very important, especially in the first half, the way we stood up to some of the challenges that were thrown their way. Also, we got a touchdown off the defense and then the interception down to the 1 that was almost a score. Two defensive plays that either scored or set up a score.”

In the loss to Tennessee the Jaguars missed over 10 tackles, with many of them coming in the secondary. Rookie Nick Marshall made his first start (nickel-back), in the win over the Colts. The Colts exploited Marshall’s inexperience during the first half. TY Hilton had a couple of long receptions during the first half but was held to just one catch in the second half. Fellow cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Demetrius McCray had been splitting nickel-back duties prior to Sunday and Bradley was ready to see if Marshall could handle a larger role.  

“I think he’s got a different skill set,” said Bradley of Marshall who had three tackles and a pass defended against the Colts. “Some of his length, we like some of his physical qualities and his skill set that he has. It was more just to open up the competition a little bit and take a look at it. Those guys have been doing some good things, but we just felt like Nick in practice and more pass breakups, he was very aggressive in his technique and we felt like we wanted to take a look at that.”

Marshall wasn’t the only new face on the defense. Middle linebacker Jordan Tripp made his first career start, filling in for Paul Posluszny. He finished with four tackles.

“I think initially we had some issues that came up, just with the calls and getting guys lined up, but it was for a very, very short period of time,” said Bradley when asked to assess Tripp’s performance. “Maybe a couple of plays, one or two plays here and there, so I thought how he managed the huddle, how he directed traffic, how he took ownership of it and how he handled it I just thought he did a really, really good job under the conditions he went into. So I was very pleased with that. Again, I don’t know if there was anything where he stood out with big plays but I think that he did a lot of things really well. I’m pleased with his first opportunity and I think he’ll continue to grow from it.”

After the first half it looked like the Colts were on pace for their 17th straight AFC South win. Bradley was proud of the way his team bounced back in the second half.

“I was glad to see what took place yesterday because you could see all three phases coming together. I just saw improvement. That’s the part that I’m really excited about. Now the challenge is to build on that. We’ll take a look at it when the season is over to see just how far we’ve come along and the direction. But that game, that performance yesterday, is something we can build on for this week.”