Through nine games, the Jaguars’ opportunistic defense has forced 18 turnovers, five more than they had all of last season.
And they expect to increase that total this upcoming Sunday on the road when they play the winless Cleveland Browns (0-9).
The Browns’ offense has committed a NFL-high 23 turnovers - 18 interceptions.
“I don’t think anyone lacks confidence and I think that’s why we’re all playing collectively well,” said safety Tashaun Gipson, who played four seasons with the Browns before signing as a free agent with the Jaguars in 2016. “We’re all confident in our own ability and we just go out there and try to make names for ourselves and get respect.”
The Jaguars (6-3) have had at least two takeaways in five games, which includes this past Sunday’s 20-17 overtime win against the Chargers when Gipson recovered a fumble caused by defensive tackle Malik Jackson in the fourth quarter and cornerback A.J. Bouye’s critical pick in overtime and 51-yard return set up Josh Lambo’s 30-yard game-clinching field goal.
Behind their defense, the Jaguars have won three straight and are tied for first in the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans. It is the first time the Jaguars are three games over .500 since Week 14 of the 2010 season.
“We have so many playmakers and some of these guys take turns at it and you can go down the line,” defensive tackle Calais Campbell said. “Takeaways are huge when the game is on the line. As a unit, I feel we’re doing what we have to do and we’re getting better each day. I think our confidence is growing and we’re heading in the direction that we want to go to. We have big goals and we’re right on schedule.”
When teams have either forced passes into tight coverage or when a running back or quarterback has carelessly held the ball, the Jaguars have taken advantage.
The Jaguars defense has recovered seven fumbles and intercepted 11 passes, the second-most in the NFL. It has led to Jaguars having a plus-7 turnover differential that’s tied for third-best in the NFL.
“Anytime you can give the ball back to your offense and give them more opportunities, it gives you a better chance to win,” nickelback Aaron Colvin said. “It seems like all we do is make big plays.”
In Week 5 that’s certainly what they did in Pittsburgh.
The Jaguars picked off Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a career-high five times and linebacker Telvin Smith and safety Barry Church both took back two for touchdowns.
The Jaguars’ big-play takeaway ability started in Week 1 when Yannick Ngakoue stripped sacked Houston quarterback Tom Savage and Dante Fowler returned the fumble 53 yards for a touchdown.
The Jaguars have got four touchdowns from their defense - two fumble returns and two interceptions.
“I was telling Jalen (Ramsey) before (Sunday’s) game that turnovers don’t get rolling until one of the DBs get it,” said Bouye, who is tied for the team lead with Gipson with three interceptions.
“We want to get the ball. We’re aggressive on some routes and sometimes they don’t notice it, but we know especially in the back in how good are ball skills are and when you got a rush like that in the front that’s getting after them they’re going to panic and we’re going to capitalize on it.”
The Jaguars have efficiently converted turnovers into points - leading the league with 80. It’s a trend that Coach Doug Marrone wants to continue seeing over the next seven weeks.
“Obviously, it’s helped us,” Marrone said. “Obviously, it’s won games for us. No different than us being able to protect the football. We always want to the percentages of when you’re in the plus from the turnover percentage it’s going to work in your favor. They’ve just got to come when the plays come to you, we’ve just got to be able to make those plays and I think our guys have been doing a nice job of that.”