3TFO: Jaguars @ Rams, Week 5
It’s a new opportunity for the Jacksonville Jaguars to erase that zero from their wins scoreboard although this may not be the best week as they visit St. Louis to play a well-rested team that needs a victory after their tough loss to the Niners in the last Thursday night game. The Rams would fall into a deep hole if they lose at home again.
Justin Blackmon is back after his four game suspension and he should provide a safety target to Blaine Gabbert who has struggled in the two games he played. Blackmon could make a big debut if he exploits his matchup with Cortland Finnegan who is allowing a 158.3 perfect passer rating in throws into his coverage. On the other hand, Sam Bradford and the entire Rams’ offense will try to put behind them their rough display vs. San Francisco.
Jaguars Offensive Tackles vs. Rams Edge Rushers
Following the Eugene Monroe trade to Baltimore, the 2013 first-rounder Luke Joeckel moves to the left side in the offensive line, where he played his whole college career, and Austin Pasztor takes over the right tackle after playing three games at left guard last season. In his first four NFL games, Joeckel allowed three sacks and 11 hurries, scoring 93.5 in Pass Blocking Efficiency – 37th out of 60 ranked offensive tackles. Pasztor played right tackle during the preseason grading positively (+3.0) in pass blocking, giving up only two hurries in 64 passing snaps. This Sunday will be the first real action they see in their new positions and they won’t have easy matchups.
Robert Quinn started the season with two record performances taking advantage of favorable matchups like Levi Brown with the Cardinals and Sam Baker with the Falcons. In those two games Quinn had a cumulative grade of +16.1 in pass rushing recording 17 total pressures. That was enough to keep him in the Top 5 in Pass Rush Productivity among 4-3 defensive ends despite getting only four pressures in the last two games. He proved to make of the most of the opportunities he gets in favorable situations so we’ll see if the rookie gives him a tough game or Quinn has another performance to remember.
Across the defensive line, it will be Chris Long who will test Pasztor’s ability in pass protection shown in preseason. Like his teammate, Long began the season with his best game recording one sack, one hit, and three hurries vs. the Cardinals. Since then he failed to get another positive grade in pass rushing and posted seven total pressures in three games, failing to get any vs. the Cowboys.
Sam Bradford Under Pressure
Finding ways to get to Sam Bradford or to keep him clean in the pocket is going to be one of the main keys of the game. The fourth-year quarterback throws under pressure 38.8% of the time – 13th in the league – and completes under 35% of his passes. Bradford is one of five starting QBs who has yet to throw an interception under pressure but his Accuracy Percentage of 48.1% makes him the 29th-ranked quarterback in that area. In the last game, he threw 23 times under pressure, completing 38.9% for 106 yards and a -3.5 grade.
Who’s going to apply the pressure? Let’s start with the Rams’ offensive line. Chris Williams has the lowest pass blocking grade (-4.8) after allowing 14 total pressures with three sacks but it’s the tackles who have the worst PBE numbers: 93.6 for Joe Barksdale and 93.4 for Jake Long. Overall, the St. Louis’ OL has surrendered 61 total pressures in 196 snaps – 18th in PBE with 75.6. For the Jaguars, Sen’Derrick Marks is their most productive pass rusher on the inside with 12 pressures in 126 snaps although Jeremy Mincey has been very effective in the few opportunities he’s had as a defensive tackle posting one sack and two hurries in 18 snaps. Jason Babin is in the Top 10 among 4-3 DEs in PRP scoring 11.3 with 13 of his 15 pressures coming from the left side. Mincey, Tyson Alualu, and Andre Branch combined for 14 total pressures in 199 pass rushing snaps. No team has been dominant in this area so whoever gets the edge in the trenches should be one step closer to the win.
Rams Wide Receivers vs. Jaguars Cornerbacks
The Rams’ wide receiver group is a young, talented unit but has failed to produce in the first quarter of the season. Sam Bradford is the most victimized quarterback by drops with 15 – nine of them from his wide receivers. Tavon Austin leads the group with three in 23 catchable targets for a 13.04 Drop Rate, 14th-worst among wide receivers. The Rams expected much from the quick, elusive rookie but they haven’t found the way to get the most of him yet. Austin is among the worst receivers in Yards per Route Run from the slot with 0.84. On Sunday he’ll face Mike Harris who has surrendered 104 yards in 12 targets.
On the outside, Will Blackmon is one of the few Jaguars’ players to perform at a solid level. Coming off his best game of the season vs. the Colts (+4.3) he’ll get his hands on Austin Pettis who is averaging 0.97 YPPR and has caught 62.1% of his targets. At right cornerback, Alan Ball is allowing 0.56 Yards Per Coverage Snap – fifth-lowest among CBs – but also a 115.0 passer rating after giving up 72.7% completion percentage and one touchdown in 11 targets. In front of him, Chris Givens will try to build on his game vs. San Francisco last Thursday when he caught four of seven targets for 49 yards without a drop. How this battle plays out will be decisive in the outcome given how much the Rams rely on the passing game to move the chains.
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