The Jacksonville Jaguars pass rush has been a huge issue all season and was still the case on Sunday in the loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but veteran Jason Babin and second-year player Andre
Twig Branch appeared to have more success pressuring the quarterback than they have all season.
Branch, in particular.
According to Pro Football Focus, Branch ended the game with four pressures, a hit on the quarterback and sack, making it by far his best game of the 2013 season. It brings his season totals to 11 hurries, three hits and two sacks.
Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said in his Wednesday press conference that the first thing they wanted to drill into Branch was his effort. They needed to consistently see the effort from him during the game and they felt like they'd started to see that.
"The next phase was ‘Now we need to feel you on your pass rush and develop an arsenal in your pass rush,’ " Bradley said on Wednesday. "Although he missed the possibility of a sack on the second third down that we had, you felt him. He had hits on the quarterback. In games he’s running and you feel him become more active in that. He’s gaining more and more confidence. I think it all stemmed from starting out with his effort."
While a head coach openly talking about a lack of effort at any point isn't a good thing for most players, the fact that Branch has been able to consistently keep it up and start to make an impact is good on both his end and the coaching end.
While it's nice to see Branch finally show up and make an impact in a game, it's also worth noting that he was up against some of the worst offensive tackles in the NFL. By Pro Football Focus' grading, Bradley Sowell and Eric Winston rank fourth and seventh worst overall in the NFL, respectively. They have combined given up 55 pressures and 11 sacks in 2013.
The real test will be to see if Branch can carry it forward against the Houston Texans who have much better offensive tackles.