JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Coming into the start of training camp we knew that the Jaguars defense was better on paper. When you add Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson in free agency, draft Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack and then throw in a healthy Dante Fowler that certainly raises the talent level.
Over the first couple of days of camp we’ve seen glimpses of this unit coming together. On day No. 4 of camp the defensive unit added a couple more takeaways to their total. During seven-on-seven drills Davon House made a nice play on the ball for an interception. Later in practice safety James Sample joined the party by picking off a pass.
In general seeing the defense force turnovers is something new this season. After adding the pieces I mentioned earlier the Jaguars feel they have the playmakers to make this a regular occurrence.
“I think that’s one of the things if you want to be a good secondary, turnovers are part of the game, said Gipson. “I think with the best secondaries, the turnover margin is crucial and I think that Coach [Gus] Bradley and Coach [Todd] Wash, they always harp on turnovers and getting the ball. Seeing the ball and getting the ball and I think that’s one of the turning points that’s going to get this defense over the edge because if we can turn the ball and get turnovers I think it’s going to be huge for this defense.”
With Gipson roaming the defensive backfield at free safety, he gives the Jaguars something they haven’t had since Bradley arrived in town. Through minicamp, OTA’s and now training camp he’s shown the ability to cover from sideline to sideline. Even House mentioned that he feels he can take more chances knowing that he has Gipson backing him up over the top of the defense.
“I think that bringing that attitude and that swagger and people understand that what turnovers can do not just individually but for the defense as a unit, and I think that that’s major,” said Gipson. “I think that all the guys in the back end, we pride ourselves on getting the ball and I think that a lot of the guys, they feel up to the challenge. I know a lot of the guys’ interceptions and getting turnovers wasn’t a big part of the Jaguars defense but I think that tide is going to change. I can’t say that I’m solely to blame for that but I’ll take credit if you all will give it to me.”
It’s hard to gauge the impact of the pass rush until the Jaguars face an opposing team, but overall Bradley has noticed that side of the ball is playing with a lot more confidence.
“We were in OTA’s, too,” said Bradley. “You are definitely seeing a mindset of that. Where guys are going after punches. I think when you get the ball out, they feed off of that. We have had a couple good days of going after the ball.”