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Opponent Breakdown: Jaguars Defense Getting Sacks and Forcing Turnovers

Last weekend the Rams had five giveaways as they fell to the Seahawks 16-10.

On that same day, the Jaguars tallied five interceptions off Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, en route to defeating the Steelers 30-9. And they were on the road.

So what worked for Jacksonville last week against a signal-caller many consider to be among the best in the league?

"We knew we were going to be challenged in the run game, obviously, with the game we had the week before. I think we were able to do a very good job against the run early on in the game," Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said this week. "Then — really I don't want to take anything away from our defense and the job that they did and obviously in pass defense, but when you go back and look at it, there was a tipped ball for an interception, there was a batted ball from Jalen [Ramsey] to [Barry] Church for an interception. The two touchdowns for interceptions were both balls that were tipped by someone on our defense before our other defender caught the ball. Then, were two more where the quarterback was under duress a little bit and couldn't really step in or throw the ball.

"We're making those plays," Marrone continued, "and, obviously, it helps considerably if we can keep making those plays."

Any time a team registers five picks, it's going to get the attention of its next opponent. The Jaguars currently lead the league with 10 interceptions and entered Week 6 leading the league with 20.0 sacks. Their turnover differential stands at +10 — another mark that tops the NFL — as they've recorded 15 takeaways to just five giveaways.

"Those guys did a great job last week," Rams head coach Sean McVay said. "I think you look at the just the way they're playing together. The way they play down-in and down-out is really a credit to their players and their coaching staff and I can't say enough about what [Jaguars defensive coordinator] Todd Wash has done with that group."

"They're leading the league in turnovers for a reason," quarterback Jared Goff said. "I think you have to be aware of it and I think one thing it will allow them to be is very confident coming into this game, coming off a game like that. They're going to come in confident looking to make plays on the ball. Yeah, it's something to be aware of for sure."

The Jaguars' defense is full of talented players, many of them former high-round draft picks. Ramsey was selected at No. 5 overall in 2016, and has began this season playing at a very high level. He currently has a pair of interceptions and nine passes defensed.

Jacksonville took Myles Jack at No. 38 overall last year, and he's played in all 21 games since. The UCLA product has 1.0 sacks and a pair of rumble recoveries this year — one of which he returned 81 yards for a touchdown.

"Obviously the first year here we had him trying to learn multiple positions and I think we put a lot on his plate," Marrone said. "I think that early on, that's very difficult to do with any incoming draft pick or first year player. But, I think at the end, it's actually helped us now where he can play two positions in base and nickel, he's on the field for all three downs, he's calling the defenses, so we've been very pleased."

Then there's defensive end Dante Fowler, who missed all of 2015 after suffering a season-ending leg injury during rookie minicamp. The first-round pick played in 16 games last year, registering 4.0 sacks. But now he's coming into his own, having already matched that figure just five games into the 2016 season.

Jacksonville's sack leader, however, is perhaps their biggest free agency addition — defensive end Calais Campbell. At 31 years old, Campbell recorded 4.0 sacks against the Texans in Week 1, and now has 6.0 on the season. The Rams, however, are plenty familiar with Campbell from his previous nine seasons with the NFC West-rival Cardinals.

"Calais, I've faced up with him a million times," left guard Rodger Saffold said. "Very long, very strong guy and does a great job in the twist game. So for me, fundamentals is probably the biggest thing that I have to stay on with him."

For this week's matchup, running back Todd Gurley sees some similarities between the two teams. Aside from the obvious — both teams are 3-2 — from watching film, Gurley's noticed similarities in attitude, too.

"They're just like us — haven't been winning the last couple of years and they're at the top of their division right now," running back Todd Gurley said, "so they have a lot of momentum going for themselves."

"They are a good defense and have a done a great job creating turnovers this year, so we have to be careful about that," Goff said. "Definitely our goal every game is to protect the football and take care of the ball, but this game's going to be an emphasis for sure."

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