Doug Marrone has a message for the conductors of his defense's hype train: Slow down.
The Jacksonville Jaguars coach is aware of the statistics. He knows with 10 sacks against the Indianapolis Colts last week and 10 against the Houston Texans in Week 1, his defense became the first one since the Chicago Bears in 1984 to have multiple double-digit sack games in one season. He also knows the Jaguars changed their Twitter name to "#Sacksonville" over the weekend and he knows some wild comparisons have been made.
But Marrone wants the brakes pumped. His defense is nowhere near those historic Bears' ones of the '80s, he said Tuesday on Good Morning Football.
"I'm going to tell you the same thing I tell everyone else, hold on. Hold on," Marrone told NFL Network's Nate Burleson. "I played against that Bears' defense after they won the Super Bowl that year. I know those cats that were on that team. Now hey, outstanding team. We still got a long way to go but I'm happy with the direction that we're going. Because I got that question in the press conference, I was like, 'Stop, hold on. Stop right there.'"
Marrone can say all the right things in the media and can try to keep his defense humble and hungry, but the toothpaste is quickly coming out of the tube in Duval County. Three of the league's top 13 sack leaders (Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler) wear a Jaguars uniform, with Campbell leading the league with 10 already. The team's 33 total sacks leads the NFL by nine and its nine forced fumbles are also tied for tops in the league.
Perhaps Marrone is slowing down praise because a lot of the Jaguars' defensive damage has come against teams without great offenses, like the Colts last weekend, the Ravens in Week 3 or the mostly Deshaun Watson-less Texans in Week 1. Perhaps Marrone just wanted to make sure his secondary got some credit over the defensive line (he told Burleson, "I've never seen a good pass rush with people playing poorly in the back end").
But the Jaguars' schedule only gets easier from here. They face just one team, the Seahawks, in Elliot Harrison's top 10 NFL Power Rankings in their final nine matchups of the season. Games against the Bengals, Browns, Cardinals, Colts and 49ers still loom. No matter what Marrone is saying heading into his team's bye week, the Jaguars will have every chance in 2017 to put up some historic defensive numbers.