The Jacksonville Jaguars were winning. On the road. Against a divisional leader in the Detroit Lions. They’d defended better-than-expected all year against tight ends.
And then Eric Ebron happened.
What happened? What the hell happened on that 61-yard breakdown? It was third-and-14. What the hell happened?
Before the snap
Telvin Smith is the closest defender to Eric Ebron pre-snap. He’s not anything to you, me, Ebron, or Matthew Stafford that he’s going to be the primary defender on the tight end who is lined up wide and not in any sort of potential pass blocking position.
At this point, it looks like Telvin will be in zone and Johnathan Cyprien (who’s getting direction from Paul Posluszny) is going to be covering Ebron if he gets anywhere near the first down marker.
The drop back
Telvin’s full attention is still firmly on Stafford. Jalen Ramsey makes initial coverage within a couple of yards of the line of scrimmage and looks to be playing man-to-man coverage with outside receiver Andre Roberts. Cyprien is backpedaling. Tashaun Gipson is clearly being directed to be the safety net for the right side of the Lions coverage. The culprit is likely one of Telvin, Jalen, or Cyprien — or some combination of those three.
Ebron gets wide open and Stafford makes the pass while Telvin’s head is still turned away from the intended target. Jalen is trailing Roberts because the two of them run into Ebron and Telvin who all collide just a second before. Cyprien is firmly locked onto Roberts as well.
There’s not a damn player within five yards of Ebron as he makes the catch. Telvin taking himself out of the play and Jalen stumbling after Roberts forces Cyprien to choose one to go after. He goes after the receiver with the deeper route, leaving Ebron wide open and Telvin looking at the tight end for likely the first time all play.
The entire play
So, who was at fault here? Likely Telvin Smith. I can’t say for certain what the play call or coverage call were, but it looks like Telvin misunderstood his role in this play and instead of spying Stafford, he should have taken Ebron on, allowing Cyprien an extra half-step in covering for Jalen’s fall, and for Dante Fowler to easily wrap up Stafford in the event that he took off running (which he does an average of twice a game over the course of his career).
What do you think? Who do you think was at fault for this Eric Ebron catch-and-run that went for 61 yards?