3TFO: Jets @ Jaguars, Week 14
Both teams are coming off horrid games where QB play wasn't pretty. Steve Palazzolo takes a look at who's going to matter in a game with low expectations.
3TFO: Jets @ Jaguars, Week 14
So the New York Jets wanted to be relevant? I’m not sure a 5-7 record and weekly discussion about their quarterback situation is what they had in mind, but that’s where we stand heading into Week 14 as they travel to Jacksonville.
The Jets defeated the Arizona Cardinals 7-6 last week in one of the worst quarterbacked games in recent history. After starting quarterback Mark Sanchez was benched, backup Greg McElroy’s 29 yards represented the offensive highlight of the day as he mounted the lone touchdown drive between the two teams. This week, it’s Sanchez back at the helm and despite the tumultuous season in New York, the Jets have a favorable schedule down the stretch and a chance to finish strong and carry some momentum into 2013.
Things have been even worse in Jacksonville where the 2-10 Jaguars have put themselves in position to lock up the first No. 1 overall pick in franchise history. They’ve encountered a quarterback quandary of their own as second-year starter Blaine Gabbert is mercifully out for the season and backup Chad Henne has shown flashes that just haven’t been seen in Gabbert’s short time at the helm. The Jaguars may have to decide if their signal-caller of the future is currently on the roster, or finishing up his college career. The last four games will go a long way in determining Henne’s future.
Let’s take a look at this week’s matchups.
Marcedes Lewis and Justin Blackmon vs. Jets Middle of the Field Pass Defense
Despite the loss of all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis to injury, the Jets have done a nice job of defending passes outside the numbers, and CB Antonio Cromartie’s strong season has been a big part of that success. His 0.88 Yards Per Cover Snap ranks fifth in the league, while his +9.0 coverage grades ranks fourth. On the other side, both CB Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster have also fared well in Revis’ absence with 1.04 and 1.21 Yards Per Cover Snap respectively. While the coverage has been stellar on the outside, the Jets have been vulnerable in the intermediate and deep middle of the field (see numbers below).
The Jaguars have the talent to exploit the Jets’ weakness in the middle by using tight end Marcedes Lewis and wide receiver Justin Blackmon. Lewis has stretched the seam a bit more with Henne at the helm. Of his six total receptions to the deep and intermediate middle, four have come in the past three games. Like Lewis, Blackmon has also found similar success as 54% of his 557 receiving yards have come on receptions to the deep and intermediate range of the field. This could be a big day for Lewis and Blackmon as their strengths appear to match up with the Jets’ weakness.
The Jets pass defense on passes thrown 10+ yards outside the numbers: 27-for-89 (30%) 597 yards (6.7 yards/attempt).
The Jets pass defense on passes thrown 10+ yards inside the numbers: 33-for-57 (58%) 643 yards (11.3 yards/attempt).
Austin Howard vs. Jason Babin
Don’t look now, but the Jets have actually produced good offensive line play in recent weeks, even from the right tackle spot. RT Austin Howard has certainly had his ups and downs in his first season as a starter, but he’s given up only four total pressures in his past four games, and his run block grade is +6.4 during that stretch — in fact, he made our Secret Superstars list this week. He’s still only 52nd among 61 qualifying tackles in Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) at 92.8, but the recent arrow is pointing up and he’s providing right tackle play that hasn’t been seen in New York in a while.
Howard will be matched-up against defensive end Jason Babin who was a surprise waiver claim for the Jaguars after he was released from the Philadelphia Eagles. He picked up two hurries on his 14 pass rushes in his Jaguars debut last week. His limited opportunities were a function of the Buffalo Bills’ limited passing attack last week, as Babin was on the field for 41 of Jacksonville’s 66 defensive snaps. He’s 13th in the league in Pass Rushing Productivity (PRP) at 9.8 and despite his reputation as a one-trick pass rusher, Babin showed his quickness against the run on a play last week where he stopped Fred Jackson for a 3-yard loss. Like Henne, the Jaguars will be giving Babin an extended look to determine his future in the team’s rebuilding efforts.
Jets Edge Rushers vs. Jaguars Offensive Tackles
The Jets have been unable to consistently rush the passer, and the Jaguars have been unable to protect their quarterbacks, aside from left tackle Eugene Monroe. Something has to give on Sunday. Monroe is 13th in the league in Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) at 95.8, but RT Cameron Bradfield ranks 42nd, at 93.8. He’s coming off his worst game of the season last week as he graded at -3.4 as a pass blocker. He’s had his ups and downs this year, but he’s been an upgrade over opening day starter Guy Whimper.
The Jaguars’ tackles will be going up against Jets outside linebackers Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas. Pace is 15th out of 19 qualifiers at 3-4 outside linebacker with a PRP of 7.2. Thomas has been only slightly better at 7.5 as both players look more like situational run stoppers at this point in their careers. OLB Garrett McIntyre and his -4.2 pass rush grade will also see some time rushing off the edge. It’s not the flashiest matchup of the week, but the battle on the edge could go a long way in determining the effectiveness of the Jaguars’ passing attack.
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