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FILM ROOM: Jaguars Defense Steps Up in Biggest Moments

The much maligned unit made the biggest plays of the season across the pond on Sunday

Miami Dolphins v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Guys and gals, it’s been 20 games. 20 long games, but the Jacksonville Jaguars are finally in the win column. The Jaguars went over to London, England and defeated the Miami Dolphins 23-20 on the right foot of Matthew Wright. As well as I believe Wright played individually, after going back through the film, I think the Jaguars defense performed admirably. The numbers won’t wow you: Miami had 431 total yards of offense, including 354 through the air. However, the defense stepped up when it mattered the most, and that was keeping the game within reach as the Jaguars offense faltered. The Dolphins only scored 20 points mainly due to the defense being able to hold Miami to field goals, and not touchdowns. For example, in the first half, Miami went up 10-3, and just received the ball in plus territory off of a bad punt by Logan Cooke. The Dolphins next three drives went field goal, punt, missed field goal, and the Jaguars went into halftime only down 13-10.

With all that being said, I think the biggest plays of the game for the defense came on Miami’s final offensive drive, so lets open up the film room and look at the final drive in its’ entirety.

1st & 10 at the Miami 25

The Jaguars run Cover 3 on this play, and the Dolphins counter by running somewhat of a bench concept, with Jaylen Waddle running a speed out and Mike Gesicki running a corner route. This is an easy Cover 3 beater, because it puts CB Nevin Lawson in a bind and forces him to choose who to cover. Easy pitch and catch for eight yards.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Notice that on this play, Damien Wilson and K’Lavon Chaisson aren’t in the game. Shaquille Quarterman is next to Rudy Ford, and Dawuane Smoot is opposite Josh Allen. Quarterman played a very good game Sunday (we’ll get to him later) and the Jaguars would sub out Dakota Allen and Damien Wilson for Quarterman, Ford or Chappelle Russell in some passing situations.

As for Smoot, he’s the most consistent pass rusher opposite Josh Allen, who played a MONSTER game on Sunday. In crucial moments like the final drive, you have to go with your most consistent player.

2nd & 2 at the Miami 33

Did I mention Josh Allen playing a monster game Sunday? Well he gets the stuff here on second down because of how quickly he disengages with the Dolphins LT Liam Eichenberg, and is able to stop the RB’s momentum. The Jaguars called a blitz here to the field side, but Damien Wilson does a great job of getting skinny into the gap and keeping one arm free to slow the RB down.

3rd & 1 at the Miami 34

Miami gets the first down here using an inside zone run, but Jihad Ward does a good job of fighting to maintain his gap and ends up making the tackle. If Chappelle Russell sees this earlier, however, it could have been a potential stop in the backfield. Russell was brought on instead of Rudy Ford because of the distance to the first. Russell also played well considering the circumstances (no Myles Jack), and could be used more on obvious passing downs.

1st & 10 at the Miami 37

The shuffling by the backside TE freezes Rayshawn Jenkins and Josh Allen enough for the RB to gain four yards. Roy Robertson-Harris loses his footing on the play as well, something that doesn’t happen often.

2nd & 6 at the Miami 41

In my opinion, this was one of the most important defensive plays of the game for the Jaguars. The Dolphins line up in 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TEs), but the Jaguars keep both Damien Wilson and Shaquille Quarterman in the game, instead of subbing in Rudy Ford. The Jaguars run Cover 1, with Wilson being the “Hole” defender(playing the intermediate MOF). The Dolphins have a great play drawn up, as the Jaguars have been killed by out-breaking routes when they’re in Cover 1. Quarterman has to get around Gesicki and make it to the RB before he can reach the first. This ends up charged as a drop to the Dolphins RB, but Quarterman makes a great play in breaking on the ball, and instead of a 3rd and 2, it’s 3rd and 6.

3rd & 6 at the Miami 41

This is an interesting play, mainly because of what Miami does to counter the Double A gap pressure look from the Jaguars. The RB walks up to the right side of the center, in order to essentially man-to-man everyone on the defensive line. There are six people at the LOS, we have six blockers. Don’t lose. A lot of credit goes to Tua Tagovailoa, who got rid of the ball extremely quick in this game. Tagovailoa got the ball out at an average of 2.57 seconds, tied for fifth-fastest of the week. That’s the trade off of sending heavy blitzes, your secondary has to be able to make tackles and plays on islands. Part of the reason Jaguars have struggled is because the secondary has been unable to make plays like Rayshawn Jenkins did, in stopping Gesicki before he could get to the first down.

4th & 1 at the Miami 46

“He’s here, he’s there, he’s every-freaking-where, Josh Allen, Josh Allen.”

Josh Allen makes one of the biggest plays of the Jaguars season here on 4th and 1. The Dolphins are again in 12 personnel, and the Jaguars bring on Chappelle Russell instead of Quarterman or Ford. The Dolphins motion both tight ends to the same side, leading one to believe that the ball would be following them. However, Miami runs zone to the field, away from the 2 TE set, to get the lighter bodies involved in the tackle. Josh Allen makes an amazing play of getting skinny and fighting across the TE’s face and making initial contact. However, we have to acknowledge Dawuane Smoot setting the edge and forcing the RB to cut back inside, where Smoot also disengages and helps to slow the play to no gain. Just fantastic EDGE play by both Jaguars defenders.

While Jacksonville wasn’t perfect defensively (see: 354 passing yards, 6.3 yards per play allowed, 55% success rate allowed on passes), they made plays in the biggest moments, whether it be holding the Dolphins to field goals, or Josh Allen making great plays. Jacksonville goes into the bye week with a precious 1 under the win column, and can use the bye to continue to improve on both sides of the ball.