Look, I get what the Jaguars were going for.
The Saints took their opening drive to midfield, finally stumbling into a 3rd and 14 situation. The Jaguars, understandably, choose to play soft coverage on this third down in an attempt to limit the Saints to a minimal gain and force a difficult offensive decision on 4th down.
Here's the thing -- the Jaguars had to know the Saints were in a four-down situation. New Orleans was just outside of feasible field goal range. Quarterback Drew Brees and his team were going to go for it if they got close enough on third down, and the Jaguars had to implement a strategy with this in mind.
This is what defensive coordinator Bob Babich came up with.
What. The. Hell. Is. This. That giant orange box is the space that the Jaguars are giving -- literally, handing over -- to Drew Brees. Meanwhile, seven Jaguars plant their heels on the first down line, determined to bar New Orleans from gaining exactly 14 yards.
Four Saints receivers charge into the Jaguars Red Rover formation at the snap. The Jaguars rush four, but it does't matter. The four-man rush might as well have dropped into coverage as well, considering they weren't exactly schemed to affect the play anyway.
If you slow down the video, Drew Brees appears to say "ha, okay sure" as he dumps the ball off to his running back -- perhaps the most important cover assignment on a 3rd-and-long play. Thanks to the Jaguars' prevent scheme, the closest Jaguars defender (Paul Posluszny) is 15 yards away when the back catches the ball.
In the end, the Jaguars' Hail Mary coverage actually does what Bob Babich intended for it to do -- the Saints are limited to a nine yard gain on 3rd and 14.
But wait -- the Saints are going for it? Of course they're going for it. Past midfield, five yards from the marker -- I'd expect the Jaguars offense to do the same exact thing. If the Jaguars' defense had been in a better standing on third down, maybe the Saints wouldn't be in a position to go for it.
But they are, and the Jaguars are about to get burned.
The Jaguars safeties -- Jonathan Cyprien and Josh Evans -- creep up to the line. Smart play. As long as, I don't know, someone doesn't get caught out of position or something.
Wait -- why are Evans and Aaron Colvin both covering the same outside receiver? And why are Poz and Davon House both locked onto the short crossing route? Oh my god, who has the middle of the...
...oh for crying out loud.
The Saints pick up 32 yards on two consecutive plays because the Jaguars play prevent on the first play, and no defense at all on the second.
I don't try to act like I understand every faucet of the Jaguars cover 3 zone scheme, but I understand it should't play out like that.
The Jaguars got cute, and got burnt.