CLEVELAND -- Through the first nine games of the 2017 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are the most prolific pass-rushing team in the National Football League, having gotten to opposing quarterbacks for a league-best 35 sacks.
As such, the Cleveland Browns know they will be in for quite the test against the Jaguars when the two teams meet at FirstEnergy Stadium Sunday.
“They are talented,” Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer said. “They have two corners who have proven themselves out there, which allows them to do a bunch of things within the tackles and has led them to become the sack leader in the league right now.
“It is on us to make sure that we are executing our job. Every play is designed to make sure that every guy is blocked and accounted for. It is on us to make sure that we are doing our job to account for everyone out there.”
The Jaguars’ pass rush is predicated on the play of their defensive ends, namely starters Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue, as well as reserve Dante Fowler Jr.
Campbell leads the way with 11 sacks. In fact, Campbell’s sacks total is nearly one-third of his tackles through the first nine games of the season (37).
Ngakoue has 6.5 sacks and Fowler has totaled 5.5 sacks in the first half of the season.
“Off the end, they have two completely different solid pass rushers,” Kizer said. “It is on us to make sure that we are prepared for both styles. You have one guy who is 6-8, 300-plus pounds powering through, and they have another guy who is a speed guy who can change directions quickly.
“It is on us to make sure that we are prepared for both styles of rushes and making sure that we are ID-ing our protections the right way to make sure there aren’t any free runners at the quarterback.”
In recent weeks, Kizer has placed added emphasis on getting rid of the football quicker, which had everything to do with the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers got to him for seven sacks in regular-season opener at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“I quickly learned that in order to be team-protecting, you have to be able to check the ball down and understand where your outlets are,” Kizer said. “It has nothing to do with game planning for the offensive line. It has everything to do with me just making sure that the ball is out of harm’s way.
“It is professional football. You have to expect that every defense you play against is going to be stout. Once again, it is on us to make sure that we are executing our duties and are learning from the guys who have not had a lot of success in the past against them.”