The Jacksonville Jaguars have been one of the most surprising teams in the NFL this year. The Jags are 5-3 – this after finishing 5-11 or worse for the last six seasons.
The most impressive part? They’re doing it with defense.
“It’s definitely the best defense (in the league),” Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Our numbers speak for itself. We have a lot of playmakers on all levels of the ball, from the D-Line to the linebackers, even in the back end.”
The Jaguars lead the league in scoring defense (14.6 points allowed per game), pass defense (156.4 yards per game allowed), and sacks (35) and rank third in total defense (281.3 yards per game), turnovers (16), and turnover margin (+7).
That’s getting it done.
Bouye, who spent the first four years of his career with the Texans before signing a five-year deal with Jacksonville in March, can’t speak to how the Jags ran things in the past, but he said training camp this year was extremely physical. Lots of conditioning. Lots of full-pad scrimmaging.
It was intense.
“It’s definitely a little bit tough, but the standard is set high,” Bouye said. (Defensive end) Calais (Campbell) definitely emphasizes that to us every day at practice, and the way we compete at practice, it just starts to show. Our mind is always on football.”
That was apparent this past Sunday against the Bengals, as second-year cornerback Jalen Ramsey got into a skirmish with Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green. In fact, Green went after Ramsey, threw him to the ground, and punched him several times.
Green was fined $42,000 for his antics.
Ramsey clearly got under Green’s skin – which, in a way, is the job of a defensive back.
“He’s a great guy,” Bouye said of Ramsey. “I’m not just saying that because he’s my teammate. I watched him last year when I was in Houston, and I was a fan. A lot of people might say it’s trash talk, but even I trash talk. It’s war out there when you’re on the field. You can tell that he really loves the game. He shows it every day on the field. He’s always bringing energy, he’s always competing, and I feel like we always do that, especially in the back end.”
Offensively, meanwhile, rookie Leonard Fournette has made a world of difference. He’s rushed 130 times for 596 yards (4.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns, but was benched this past Sunday after missing the team photo.
Fournette later apologized.
“He’s a good guy, a good teammate,” Bouye said. “I don’t think he did it to jeopardize himself or jeopardize the team. He learned from it. He’s back out there working hard just like he’s always been doing. He learned from it, and I doubt he’ll miss any more pictures again.”
Jacksonville, which beat Cincinnati 23-7 in Fournette’s absence, hosts the Chargers (3-5) this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.