All of the talk surrounding the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason centered around whether or not their offense could improve, but nobody had concerns about their defense.
It was the Jaguars defense, however, that cost them dearly in a dramatic 26-23 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings in their season opener on Sunday.
After second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert engineered an impressive go ahead drive late in the fourth quarter that was capped by a 39-yard touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts, the Jaguars defense surrendered a game tying field goal as time expired in regulation.
It was a continuation of the theme of the afternoon for the Jaguars pass defense, which struggled to keep Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder from moving his team up and down the field for most of the second half.
Perhaps the biggest flaw on the Jaguars defense was their inability to rush Ponder. For most of the afternoon he had plenty of time to stand in the pocket and expose a Jaguars back seven that was missing two of its best players, Daryl Smith and Derek Cox.
The biggest disappointment on the Jaguars defense was free agent signing Aaron Ross, who the Vikings picked on all afternoon as he continued to look confused in coverage. Ross won a starting job in training camp mostly due to Rashean Mathis‘ inability to compete as he was recovering from knee surgery.
It is not hard to foresee Mathis’ return to the starting lineup once he is healthy enough to play a full game.
Ponder is one of the lower rated passers the Jaguars are going to see this season, so if their pass defense struggled against him it may not be a good sign of things to come for them this year.