Jacksonville Jaguars backup linebacker Jordan Tripp did a very good job filling in for the injured Paul Posluszny on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. And that's no easy task. Tripp had to receive the defensive calls from the sidelines and "quarterback" the defense, making sure they all had the right assignments.
Through the first 13 games of the season, Tripp had played three games and 25 snaps. Then he was forced into action, started at middle linebacker against the Colts, and didn't leave the field -- playing every one of the team's 74 defensive snaps and doing a pretty darn good job of it.
Although I'm not going to say the Jaguars have found their middle linebacker of the future -- because one game does not make for any delusions of grandeur -- Tripp did well filling in and it will be interesting to see if and when he's used in the final three games.
Posluszny is back from a broken hand that kept him out last week and he's the starter. Overall, he's the better player. And his experience leading this defense, not to mention the fact that he's played really well this year, will see him most likely start for the Jaguars on Sunday. But Tripp's play on Sunday can't be denied. He excelled in pass protection, especially along the sidelines, and took away easy passes that would have been drive-sustaining completions for Matt Hasselbeck.
For example, take this red zone play at the beginning of the second quarter. Matt Hasselbeck runs the play action and looks immediately to No. 84 Jack Doyle running out of the fullback position. Tripp sees the play developing and shows off his speed by getting to Doyle before Hasselbeck delivers the ball.
Instead of getting closer to the goal line, the pass is thrown in the dirt, and the drive ends up as a field goal.
Tripp's biggest deficiency is his run defense and his blitzing. He was a bit too hesitant in getting to the player and his blitzes didn't contribute to any pressures or sacks. But neither his blitzing or run defense should be considered bad. He was targeted eight times by the Colts in the run game and gave up just 31 yards. But 14 of those yards came on the final play of the first half with the Colts deep in their own territory. Take that play away and you've got seven runs for 17 yards.
Here's an early play where Tripp showed off his ability to track Frank Gore in the backfield and contribute to the play where he's stuffed at the line of scrimmage.
In all, Tripp was targeted 11 times out of 74 total plays by the Colts offense. Here is the breakdown of run vs. pass and how each quarter played out.
|Run Plays||Run Yards||Pass Plays||Pass Yards|
By no means am I saying that one game against a sub-par offense led by AARP member Matt Hasselbeck should mean Tripp is deserving of the middle linebacker spot. What I do think is that Tripp is a serviceable backup that has earned himself a closer look in the offseason, and that if Posluszny needs to miss any more time this season we shouldn't be scared.