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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars D desperately needs to tighten up against tight ends

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Peter Joneleit/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

The vaunted Jaguars defense has been in shut-down mode all season long, especially against the pass, where no team has allowed fewer yards or touchdowns or generated more sacks.

Opponents have found a hole there, however, and they’ve actually done a pretty good job of exploiting it.

The weakness lies in the middle of the field, between the numbers, where tight ends tend to roam the most and have found a way to exploit the Jaguars linebackers safeties and slot corners.

As Mike Kay of WTLV noted, opponents are completing about 67-percent of all the passes they’ve thrown to their tight ends, who have accounted for nearly 23-percent of all the air yards gained against the Jags.

Tight ends have also accounted for four of the nine receiving touchdowns the Jaguars have allowed, including the one Cardinals backup Ricky Seals-Jones caught during the Jacksonville’s 27-24 loss at Arizona last week.

That touchdown catch, by the way, was part of a four-catch, 97-yard day for Seals-Jones, who spent the afternoon working with one-time Jaguar and current Cardinals backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

The Jaguars are now 1-3 when an opposing tight end catches a touchdown pass against them and they’ll be facing one of the better tight ends in the league when they take on the Colts this week.

 Jack Doyle has caught 59 passes for 544 yards and two touchdowns so far and while he didn’t hurt the Jaguars too much (four catches, 44 yards, no touchdowns) during the first meeting between the two teams (a 27-0 Jaguars victory) he could still prove to be a problem, especially with linebacker Telvin Smith in danger of missing this game with a concussion.

 “He has become a very big part of their passing game,’’ Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said of Doyle. “He has really come on strong. He catches contested balls, can body people up, can run extremely well. He has done a very good job and is playing at a very high level.’’

The Jaguars are, too, particularly on the outside, where they have done a great job of shutting down opposing wide receivers. They need to tighten up a bit in the middle, though, and not just this week against the Colts.

As opponents become more aware of the hole that’s developed inside their pass defense, they’ll look to exploit it more and more and that could prove to be the Jaguars undoing.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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