Jaguars' struggling defense: 'That's who we are right now'

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Calais Campbell was pretty emphatic Sunday night: What he has seen the past two games cannot be the Jacksonville Jaguars' defense.

The unit that gave up 206 yards rushing and let Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott pretty much do whatever he wanted in a 40-7 loss? The group that gave up 30 points and 298 yards passing to Kansas City? An imposter.

And yet ... as much as it hurts to admit ... he knows that it is.

"This wasn't us," Campbell said after the Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium. "This wasn't our kind of ball. We went out here and we played like somebody else, like a hostage. This wasn't us and at the same time, we've got to wear it because it is us.

"That's who we are right now."

Right now the Jaguars' defense is bad. It has given up 70 points, 332 yards rushing, six touchdowns in nine red zone possessions and 49 first downs in losses to the Chiefs and Cowboys.

The Jaguars have given up 44 points in the first half of those games after giving up only 12 first-half points total in their first four games.

That's not close to being an elite defense, which is what the players have claimed to be all season. Maybe it's time for them to stop talking and start trying to fix the problems that are keeping them from being one.

"We've just got to play ball," Campbell said. "Talking has never won a ballgame. Executing wins ball games."

The Jaguars (3-3) aren't doing that, especially in the secondary. The best example of that? Cowboys receiver Cole Beasley tied a career high with nine catches, and his 101 yards receiving marked only the second time in 93 games he has surpassed 100 yards.

There are three Pro Bowlers in the secondary -- cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey (a first-team All-Pro last year) and A.J. Bouye (a second-team All-Pro last year) and safety Tashaun Gipson -- yet they are giving up easy completions. The biggest issue is communication breakdowns, which seem to occur mainly when the Jaguars are in zone coverages.

Players are either not dropping deep enough, getting caught biting on the wrong route, or just flat out forgetting where they are supposed to be. It's inexcusable considering some of them have been in coordinator Todd Wash's system for three seasons.

"Definitely a lot of miscommunications," safety Barry Church said. "It is something that once we watch the film we will be able to shore up, but we have to get that down first. We can have all the talent in the world, but if you are not playing as one unit, the proof is in the pudding out there.

"We definitely should be beyond that part. But right now, I don't know. These past couple weeks kind of showed a little bit of chinks in our armor. Like I said, we'll get back to it and I have [a lot of] confidence that we'll be back to the defense we were last year."

That unit led the NFL in pass defense, and it also ranked second in turnovers (33), sacks (55), and pressure rate (the percentage of dropbacks when a QB was sacked, under duress or hit). This season they have forced only five turnovers and have only 14 sacks through six games.

Last season's team scored seven defensive touchdowns, which was an unrealistic pace. This season's defense has one: Myles Jack's interception return in Week 1. Take away the high rate of turnovers, sacks and defensive scores, add in communication issues, and you get what you've seen the past two weeks.

"I've got to take a good look at what we're doing, making sure we're not doing too much, and then we've got to coach it better and we've got to go out there and perform better," coach Doug Marrone said. "It's not just one group with all three levels that we've had an issue with.

"I don't want to take away from them [the opponents], but we've got to take a good look at ourselves."

The fixes better come quickly. The Jaguars play host to Houston on Sunday. If Prescott and Beasley could shred the defense, what are Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins going to do? That's a critical game, too, because the Jaguars, Texans and Titans are all 3-3.

"There's a lot of football left to be played, and we know we can do what we want to do," Campbell said. "We've just got to win this next game. Take it one game at a time. I think there's some times we get ahead of ourselves and that might be one of the problems, but at the same time we know what we can do. Now we've just got to do it."