The Jacksonville Jaguars pass rush gave the Philadelphia Eagles fits in the first half of last Sunday's 34-17 loss and it's something the team will need more of when they head to D.C. to face Washington. One of the more interesting things from the first half last week wasn't necessarily that the Jaguars had a franchise record five sacks in one half, but more so how the went about getting them.
The Jaguars got pressure and their sacks just rushing four players.
Sack 1 - 3rd-and-5
The first sack, which coincidentally caused the first turnover of the game and led to the first Jaguars touchdown was caused by veteran and free agent signing Chris Clemons. The former Seattle Seahawks pass rusher looked to be in his old form, using and outside-in move on the Eagles left tackle. It helped that quarterback Nick Foles seemed to hesitate throwing the pass on what seemed to be intended to be a three-step drop and quick throw. The receiver that Foles was attempted to throw to wasn't quite open and Clemons closed the gap too quickly for him to reset and move in the pocket, fumbling as he got his.
Sack 2 - 2nd-and-20 -- coverage sack
I might get called a hater for calling Andre Branch's strip-sack a coverage sack here, but that's exactly what it is and why I used this view to grab the .gif of the play. This is a play actually where the Jaguars defense got extremely lucky that Nick Foles wasn't able to see the whole field, despite holding on to the ball far too long. Branch is stuffed on the initial rush by the left tackle, but when Foles begins to roll to his right, Tyson Alualu forces him to take a step up and back inside, and by then Branch has broken free of the left tackle and has a clean shot at an unsuspecting Foles and knocks the ball loose. All-in-all it took roughly seven seconds from the snap to the sack.
Where the Jaguars are fortunate here is there's a blown coverage by either Johnathan Cyprien or Winston Guy and as you can see, Jeremy Maclin is running wide open down the middle of the field for what could have been an easy touchdown rather than a turnover. To me, it appears Cyprien has the curl/flat coverage responsibility with Guy as the deep coverage safety. You also have Telvin Smith who looks like he should have the middle of the field drifting to his right with Guy taking a few steps down to pick up the receiver lined up in the slot.
I asked Danny Kelly of Field Gulls about this play and he indicated that in the Seahawks scheme, typically the deep safety covers the seam and the post routes so the deep safety here should pick up Maclin coming down the seam. He also mentioned it's a similar play that the Atlanta Falcons hit the Seahawks on in the playoffs.
Either way, someone messed up there and the Eagles exploited it later in the game.
Sack 3 - 3rd-and-11
The third sack of the game came from the Jaguars lightning package and once again was assisted by what seems to be an indecisive Nick Foles on another three-step drop. Sen'Derrick Marks is double teamed on the play with both Clemons and Branch getting the offensive tackles on their heels early on and Ryan Davis beating the left guard inside. Without Davis beating the guard, it's very likely Foles is able to just step up in the pocket to avoid the rush and get the ball out, but with Davis being so good rushing from the interior he hits Foles as soon as he begins to step up in the pocket.
Sack 4 - 2nd-and-5
The fourth sack of the game was actually a great play by Sen'Derrick Marks. The Jaguars clearly here are playing it safe with the zone-read and as soon as Marks recognizes Foles is keeping the football he uses a rip move to beat the left guard to the inside and gets Foles feet as he pulls back a throw and tries to roll out of the pocket. The Jaguars simply use Red Bryant to eat up space and take away the left side for Foles as a running option and with Marks ripping the way he did it keeps Foles contained and he chases him down. It was a smart, disciplined play from the defensive line.
Sack 5 - 1st-and-10
The final sack of the first half for the Jaguars is another one due to good discipline by the lineman. Branch is lined up on the left side of the defensive line and comes in unblocked, leaving the fullback to pick him up because the right tackle is crashing inside on what looks like a screen play. Branch recognizes the screen and just plows through the pulling tight end putting his inside shoulder low and hitting Foles arm as he tries to turn with the ball hanging in the air. Ryan Davis also recognizes the screen and quickly makes his quarterback pursuit a little wider to disrupt the throwing lane while Chris Clemons immediately disengages the offensive tackle and picks up the running back.
It wasn't anything spectacular the Jaguars did defensively to bring pressure on Sunday, in fact they only sent more than four pass rushers on only two plays against the Eagles. The Washington offensive line isn't anywhere near as good as Philadelphia's in pass protection, so look for more of a rush from just the front four on Sunday with the possibility of some blitzing from the OTTO linebacker mixed in.