3TFO: Jaguars @ Titans, Week 10
As the 4-4 Titans prepare for this Sunday’s matchup, a playoff run remains a possibility. With two upcoming games against the Colts as well as one against the Broncos, Tennessee will need to “beat who they’re supposed to” if they plan to remain in the hunt for a playoff berth. One such team that the Titans should beat (on paper at least) is the Jaguars. These two division rivals will meet once again in Week 16, and many of the Jaguars’ players will be essentially fighting for jobs from here on out. Jacksonville has had some stretches of good play this season, and if they can just put it together for a full game Tennessee may find themselves in a tight battle. Here are some of the key players to focus on during Sunday’s contest.
Cecil Shorts vs. Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty
If you play fantasy football, you may know Cecil Shorts as that guy who racks up catches and yards in the fourth quarter of blowout games. “The Garbage Man” happens to be one of just three offensive players for Jacksonville with a positive overall grade (+2.6). Despite picking up many of his yards in come-from-behind mode, Shorts presents a threat all game long, and he’ll factor largely into the Jaguars’ game plan. Shorts has reached double-figure targets in all but one game this year, and is on pace for 92 receptions and 1,130 yards despite missing almost a full game.
If they played in a larger market, Alterraun Verner (+12.2) and Jason McCourty (+11.6) might be household names by now. The tandem rank second and third among all cornerbacks in the league by our grading. Shorts will see plenty of each, as the two generally don’t track a particular receiver. The coverage numbers for Verner are staggering right now. Opposing quarterbacks have completed just 15-of-39 passes for 268 yards with no TD’s, four INT’s, and a QB Rating of 23.2 when throwing in his direction. McCourty’s numbers in coverage look somewhat pedestrian by comparison, but what does jump out is his ability to make stops in the passing game. He may allow catches and yards, but McCourty has a knack for tackling receivers short of first down yardage and ending drives. Most coaches in the NFL would be happy to have these two as their starting corners.
Jurrell Casey Causing Havoc
Although his run defense has trailed off over the past two games, Jurrell Casey has been as dangerous as ever rushing the passer. He’s coming off of a combined three sacks and seven hurries over the last two games, and that’s from an interior linemen. Quarterbacks tend to see a significant drop in their play when facing pressure, and Casey has been able to apply it quickly up the middle on numerous occasions this year. For Jacksonville, Chad Henne’s completion percentage drops from 64.7 without pressure to 50.8 with pressure. The interior of the Jags’ offensive line has done nothing this season to suggest that they’ll be able to shut down a player of Casey’s caliber. Expect him to be in the mix often and causing problems for Chad Henne.
Michael Roos vs. Jacksonville’s Defensive Ends
Another player that has stood out thus far for the Titans has been Michael Roos. He has graded in the green in pass blocking, run blocking, screen blocking, and penalties. Roos had an excellent first four games of the season, trailed off a bit, then bounced back with a very strong performance last week in preventing Robert Quinn from dominating another game. Roos has allowed just one sack on the season in 297 pass blocking snaps. Also, when Tennessee runs behind him, they pick up yards at an impressive clip. Running between LT and TE, the Titans average 5.2 yards per carry, in addition to 5.0 when running between LT and LG. The team averages 4.1 yards per carry as a whole.
Jacksonville tends to flip its defensive ends often, and also substitutes a decent amount, so Roos may see four different defensive ends this game. The two he’ll likely see most often are Jason Babin and Tyson Alualu. These two have played quite poorly this year, as Alualu has not been able to generate a pass rush, and Babin has committed eight penalties. Reserve Andre Branch has been hit or miss, and Jeremy Mincey has only played 145 snaps the whole season. Michael Roos has the ability to control his edge against any of these players, and Tennessee may find it beneficial to run in his direction often as well.
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