Through the first six weeks of the 2022 NFL season, Doug Pederson, Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense received the bulk of our attention. It’s easy to attribute wins and losses to the faces of the franchise, but the team’s defense was quietly playing very well.
Until Week 6, that is. The Jags O did its job by picking up 379 yards and 27 points, but their defense allowed Indianapolis to score on its each of its final five possessions, four of which were touchdowns.
Matt Ryan threw for a career-high 42 completions, plus 389 yards and three scores, on a ludicrous 58 pass attempts. The Jaguars applied pressure on a commendable 31% of his dropbacks (per PFF), but Ryan got rid of the ball so quickly and efficiently that Jacksonville finished the day with just six quarterbacks hits and zero sacks.
The 15-year vet QB and first-year Colt neutralized the Jaguars pass rush single-handedly. In a league with extraterrestrial creatures taking over the quarterback position, Ryan channeled his inner-Rondo and let fundamentals do the talking. He perfectly exemplified right-place/right-time ball placement throughout Sunday afternoon.
Seemingly anytime the Jaguars dropped into zone coverage, Ryan would find an underneath option within nanoseconds and gain any yards given to him. When Jacksonville played man, Ryan would find his best matchup and deliver the ball with astonishing touch.
The throws didn’t always look pretty coming from his 37-year-old arm, but they certainly worked.
In the end, defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell was never able to find a solution. Shaq Griffin allowed a game-winning touchdown (for the second time this season) on this sideline bomb to rookie receiver Alec Pierce.
According to rbsdm.com, it was the biggest play of the game in terms of win probability, and the second-biggest in terms of expected points added.
If Jacksonville wants to play playoff football, its cornerbacks must perform better in man coverage when called upon. We’ll see if the Jaguars can put together a complete game in Week 7 when they host Saquon Barkley and the 5-1 New York Giants.