Jaguars' Pass Rush Emerges as Strength in Win vs. Broncos
Without question, the Jaguars will tell you they have room to improve, but they just as certainly came away from the 2010 regular-season opener with a better feeling about the area after registering three sacks in a 24-17 victory over Denver in Jacksonville Sunday.
Afterward, the Jaguars talked less about numbers than they did approach. Their goal, players said, was to be relentless.
The result? So far, so good.
"We've talked a lot about the word relentless," veteran defensive end Aaron Kampman said afterward. "That is kind of what we want to have the identity of. ... A team that is tough mentally and physically and is smart doesn't beat itself. If we can get that as our identity we will be sitting pretty good."
Kampman, signed as a veteran free agen in the offseason from Green Bay to improve a rush that registered 14 sacks last season, had a sack-and-a-half on Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton Sunday, and perhaps as significantly, rookie defensive tackle Tyson Alualu also was effective.
Alualu, whose selection at No. 10 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft drew criticism from some Jaguars fans who coveted University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, finished the game with a sack, a tackle for loss, a hurry and three tackles.
Tebow, selected by Denver later in the first round, did not throw a pass Sunday, and playing as a reserve ran twice for two yards.
"It just feels real good to have a regular-season game under my belt because it's a whole different ballgame from preseason to regular season," Alualu said, adding of the pass rush, "The key to everything in the organization is to be relentless, that's the kind of mentality we wanted in this game.
"We just wanted to be relentless and come out victorious."
Said defensive tackle Terrance Kighton, "We like the pressure. We know what we can do up front. We know our strengths and our weaknesses we also know the things we can get better at also the things we are good at we will continue to get better at."
Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said during the preseason he believed the defense would be better despite the unit appearing to struggle at times. On Sunday, they were better -- and not just because of the pass rush. The unit held Denver to 89 yards rushing and 3.6 yards per carry.
That not only limited the Broncos' ability to sustain drives, Kampman said it had the added benefit of helping the pass rush.
"I think we did well against the run making them one-dimensional," Kampman said. "That gave us the opportunity to rush and the rush and the coverage worked together. We can't get there without the proper coverage and the guys were giving us time and we got there and that is how it is going to have to work for us."
Del Rio afterward discussed the effectivness of Kampman and Aluala.
"Kampman is a proven player with incredible awareness and determination," Del Rio said. "He's a guy that the motor never stops. ... It was a huge day for him, he was very dominant out there. Alualu did exactly what he thought he'd do. He doesn't say a whole lot but he's a talented young man. He brings some energy to our front, awareness, and it's great to see them both make plays. We needed them."