Analyzing Tendencies: Attacking the Titans

HOUSTON - NOVEMBER 28: Running back Arian Foster #23 of the Houston Texans gives linebacker Gerlad McRath #51 of the Tennessee Titans a stiff arm to the face as he rushes in the second quarter at Reliant Stadium on November 28 2010 in Houston Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The last time the Jaguars played the Titans they scored 3 points with 249 yards of total offense. 4 turnovers killed the few opportunities the Jaguars were afforded to put points on the board. It goes without saying that more than 3 points will be necessary if the Jaguars wish to defeat their division rival on Sunday and keep a hold on the top of the AFC South.

That's easier said than done against a team that has allowed the 8th fewest points in the league to this point in the season. Curiously, that same defense ranks 9th in the league in the most yards allowed this season.

Long sustained drives against the Titans have been prevelant, but scoring has not been. The Titans are tied with the Cardinals for the worst average time of possession at 25:40. Defensive penalties have been a major problem for Tennessee as they rank 2nd in the league in penalty yardage while on defense. Couple that with a defense that allows 3rd downs to be converted 42% of the time (8th in the NFL) and it's easy to see why opposing team's have the ball for such a majority of the clock. They also haven't received much help from their offense as the Titans defense has seen more opposing snaps than any team in the league.

All that said, they've managed to keep opposing point totals down. These stats were only inflated by a four week stretch of losses that has seen them give up an average of 418 yards per game, but somehow only allow 25 points per game.

Football Outsiders supports the claim that the Titans have been carried by a strong defense and held back by a weak offense. FO has Tennessee as their 5th ranked defense, featuring the 6th best team against the pass and the 3rd best team against the run. Conversely, the Titans offense ranks at a pedestrain 22nd.

Only Felix Jones in week 5 and Arian Foster last week have been able to eclipse 100 yards rushing against the Titans defense. Maurice Jones-Drew has been the hot hand for the Jaguars and although the Titans have been successful against the run, don't expect the Jags to go away from MJD. Against a battered, injured defensive line that has struggled with rushes up the middle, the Jaguars could establish their running game. Just ask the Giants if the Jaguars can run against strong run defenses.

There is one large weak spot in the Titan run defense that the Jaguars should look to exploit. They are top 10 at stopping runners going in every direction except off the left side. Not rushes behind the left tackle, but outside rushes towards the edge where they allow 5.66 yards per rush, ranking 28th in the NFL. Look for the Jaguars to exploit this weakness with edge rushing along with possible reverses by Mike Thomas or option plays ran by David Garrard.

As a passing defense the Titans have been very strong as well, mostly due to a pass rush that has produced 32 sacks. That's second only to the Chargers' total of 33. Eugene Monroe's performance in his return to action will be important and expect to see Marcedes Lewis assisting Jordan Black on the other side. Tennessee has been very good at stopping passes to all except #1 receivers. That makes Mike Sims-Walker's absence on Sunday even more painful, but there is clearly a weak link in the secondary that teams have been taking advantage of with their top receivers. The Jaguars could look to scheme Mike Thomas or Jason Hill into that role.

Points are likely to be difficult to be had against this stingy Titans defense so the Jaguars will need to take the opportunites they receive. Turnovers have been a thorn in the Jaguars side and they need to be avoided offensively if the Jaguars wish to have a stronger offensive showing than they gave the Titans on a Monday night.

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