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FILM ROOM: Jaguars’ reluctance to blitz sinks them in Week 2

Despite the reluctance to blitz, the young Jags defense showed some life stopping the run.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans by a score of 33-30 in a game that unexpectedly turned out to be a shootout. Despite the score, however, there are some positives to bring from the defense, especially in stopping the run. So, for the first time this year...


THE GOOD: Stopping the Run

Obviously the main goal going into the game on Sunday was stopping the NFL’s leading rusher from last year, Derrick Henry. Josh Allen said in the week leading up to the game that the goal was to hit Henry as much as possible. Well, the Jaguars did just that, holding Henry to 84 yards, and zero touchdowns.

The defensive line, especially Allen, Abry Jones, and Timmy Jernigan played especially well, freeing up Myles Jack and Joe Schobert to make plays.

Play #1: 0:55 left in Q1, 1st and 10 from Jax 49

Josh Allen does a great job of slipping the block by the tackle on this zone play, and blowing up the fullback. This slows Henry down and allows the Jaguars defenders to make the play here.

Play #2: 15:00 left in 2Q, 1st and 10 from Jax 33

This toss play is designed for the wideout(here it’s Corey Davis) to crack block the edge defender and let the tackles run free. Gotsis does a great job of getting upfield to beat the block and taking Henry down for a loss of seven.

Play #3: 7:12 left in 2Q, 2nd and 4 from Ten 21

This zone play is designed for the center and playside guard to work zone, as the center works up to the MIKE linebacker. Timmy Jernigan does a great job here of splitting the block from the guard and disrupting the center’s movement to Schobert, letting him run free to make the tackle.

Play #4: 5:58 left in 2Q, 1st and 10 from Ten. 27

This is one of my favorite team plays from the Jaguars defense on Sunday. The Titans run a wham concept: doubling the weakside DT with the tackle and guard as the tackle moves up to the WILL linebacker, the tight end down blocks on the outside corner (there are no receivers to that side) and pull the H-back who motioned from the traditional fullback to block the weakside end. In concept, this is what should happen:

However, Josh Allen again makes a great play by wrong-arming(hitting the blocker with the inside arm instead of outside) and causing a pileup, slowing Henry down. This allows Myles Jack, who was freed by Jernigan’s ability to take up the tackle, to flow freely and fill the gap. Just a great all around play by the front seven.

THE BAD: Reluctance to blitz dooms the Jaguars.

The Titans ran 59 plays on Sunday, and the Jaguars blitzed two times. That’s right. Twice. Wash spoke yesterday about the reluctance to blitz, and how that fits into his philosophy:

“I think it depends on the protections that you’re getting. I think it’s got to be a situation if we’re not getting pressure with four, then we have to come with pressure, but down and distance once again dictates that.”

Well, the Jaguars couldn’t get pressure with four all game, and Titans OC Arthur Smith took advantage of the heightened importance to stopping the run, calling play action passes giving Ryan Tannehill open windows to pass.

Play #1: What happens when you DO blitz

Despite only blitzing two times the whole game, one of those times led to a sack. It was a rather creative blitz too. Only sending in three down linemen, and allowing Josh Allen to stand up and walk along the line. Andrew Wingard and Josh Jones also walked up onto the line, and at the snap, EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson stunted to the B-gap, while Wingard worked outside. As Taven Bryan rushed up the middle, Josh Jones looped from the outside to the A-gap, and DE Dawaun Smoot rushed the B-gap. Josh Allen rushed outside to the edge, making the final product look like this:

Chaisson does a great job of swatting the hands of the guard, and gets his first sack of his career on a rather fun blitz.

Play # 2: What happens when you DON’T blitz

The Titans had all day to throw the ball Sunday, and that resulted in a lot of big plays, as Ryan Tannehill had four touchdowns, all through the air. One of them was a beauty of a throw on late pressure from Josh Allen, but a loophole in the secondary caused it. Before the snap, safeties Josh Jones and Andrew Wingard are lined up in a two-high safety look. At the snap, Jones rotates down to be the “robber” safety, covering the middle hook/curl area. Titans WR Adam Humphries gets a free inside release from DJ Hayden (I think the release was free because Hayden assumed he had help. Narrator: he did not have help), and he runs behind Jones and just in front of Wingard.

For Jones, he has to see that because there’s nobody crossing his face in front of him, that means there’s someone behind him. Wingard has another post coming from the outside receiver on the same side, allowing Humphries to get right into the hole in the zone.

In all, the Jaguars had a mixed bag of results on the defensive side. Despite playing extremely well against the run, the play action and lack of pressure doomed them. If this Jaguars team wants to be successful on defense, Todd Wash may have to dial up the heat and blitz more often, to help his young pass rushers.