The Jacksonville Jaguars have seen their pass defense take small, but noticeable, steps back seemingly every week over the last two months.
But no week was like last week's 40-14 loss to the Detroit Lions, where the Lions had receivers run to open zones and by defensive backs with ease as Jared Goff remained relatively clean and untouched in the pocket. To rebound from such a beating, the Jaguars are hoping the potential return of starting safety Andre Cisco can light a spark.
"We’re hopeful, Andre Cisco is going to be a day-to-day candidate again this week. I’m optimistic that he’ll go," Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said on Wednesday.
Cisco, the No. 65 overall pick last year, started the first 11 games of the season and leads the team in interceptions with three, coming up with some of the biggest takeaways of the season for an otherwise struggling Jaguars defense.
Due to a shoulder injury last week, though, Cisco was unable to take the field, leading to his first missed game of the season.
“He’ll be day-to-day again, he was good," Pederson said on Monday. "I just didn’t want to put him in a situation where it could set him back further. He’s trending in the right direction, so it was just a medical decision yesterday to keep him out and hopefully we get him back this week.”
Cisco's abscence led to backup safeties Andrew Wingard and Daniel Thomas moving a spot up on the depth chart, creating what Pederson called a domino effect. Now, the hope is Cisco can return against a Titans passing game that has clicked in recent weeks.
"It did move some things around last week. It took Andrew and it took DT, Daniel Thomas, playing defense a little bit more, taking away from special teams, so it’s sort of that domino effect on your football team, and it affects a lot of areas," Pederson said.
"We’re hopeful that Cisco can go and solidify that secondary. Andrew will fill in when necessary or in three-safety packages, but it’s the same type of mindset we had for Baltimore.”