In 2011, the Jacksonville Jaguars quietly posted the league’s sixth-best total defense, allowing only 313 yards per game. Fast forward a year later and a Jaguars defense that is virtually the same on paper as last year has the 26th-best defense in the league, giving up over 400 yards per game.
The major bright spot for the Jaguars on defense is defensive end Jeremy Mincey. Mincey turned down an offer this offseason to come to Chicago and currently is the best player on the Jaguars’ defense. He finished last season with a career-high eight sacks, and although he has no sacks this season, he does have two forced fumbles.
Gabe Carimi will likely be matched up against Mincey for the majority of the game, but he could switch to right end at times to be faced up against J’Marcus Webb. Due to the less-than-stellar performances of defensive end Andre Branch and defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and C.J. Mosley, teams often shift all of their focus on Mincey and force the others to perform.
For as much as the defensive line has struggled, the Jaguars’ linebackers have performed well this season. Veterans Daryl Smith and Clint Sessions have not played this season and have been replaced by Russell Allen and Kyle Bosworth. Allen has played well and has already racked up 30 solo tackles this season.
Paul Posluszny has been great at middle linebacker and plays well against both the run and the pass. The Bears will likely continue to try to get tight end Kellen Davis involved in the offense and try to force a size mismatch between Davis and one of the Jaguars’ linebackers.
On paper, the Jaguars have a solid collection of players in the secondary with veteran cornerbacks Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox along with safeties Dawan Landry and Dwight Lowery.
Mathis will likely be matched up against the Bears’ Brandon Marshall, and although he was once viewed as a top-tier cornerback in the league, Mathis is not the player he once was. Marshall should be able to use his size and speed to exploit Mathis, and the Bears’ slot receivers should be able to take advantage of nickelback Aaron Ross, who has struggled all season.
Landry and Lowery can both be labeled as hard-hitting safeties, and Landry plays very well against the run. In running situations, the Jaguars like to bring him into the box for run support, which should open up play actions passes deep against Lowery.
Matt Eurich is a contributor to Bearsbacker.com. Follow Bears Backer on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute news about the Bears. Also, check out Matt’s work on BleacherReport.com and follow him on Twitter @MattEurich.