3TFO: Titans @ Jaguars, Week 12
Coming off their bye week with a record of 4-6, the Tennessee Titans know that one more loss will all but eliminate them from any race to the postseason. That being said, with Jake Locker back healthy again, the second half of this season is just as important for next year as it is this one.
For the Jacksonville Jaguars, last week can be taken one of two ways. Either it was a valiant effort against the Houston Texans, who many believe to be the best team in the league. Or it was just another way for the team to lose in a season that has seen just one victory.
Despite both teams having a losing record, the fact that it’s a divisional clash and that there will be plenty of players trying to prove their worth to their team as the season heads down the final stretch, still make for an intriguing matchup. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the key areas to focus on in this AFC South battle.
Titans Offensive Line vs. Jaguars Pass Rush
As we head into the final six games of the season, the Titans offensive line is tied for 13th in the league with a Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) Rating of 80.9, allowing a combined 94 pressures from 387 passing plays. Both tackles, Michael Roos and David Stewart rank in the Top 22 among offensive tackles, with PBE Ratings of 95.8 and 95.6 respectively. At right guard, Deuce Lutui has stepped in for the injured, and often beaten in pass protection, Leroy Harris. While he hasn’t been flawless as a pass blocker, his four hurries allowed in two games has been an upgrade over Harris.
One of the many problems the Jaguars have faced this season has been their lack of pass rush, with just 12 sacks through 10 games. Sacks obviously don’t always tell the whole story, but in this case they serve as a indication of how little pressure Jacksonville have registered on opposing quarterbacks. Inside, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton has been the most productive pass rusher with a Pass Rushing Productivity (PRP) Rating of 5.1 ,with two sacks, six hits and six hurries from 214 pass rushing snaps. On the outside, last year’s fifth-round draft pick Austen Lane has shown flashes and has been the team’s most productive pass rusher with a PRP Rating of 10.6. Players like defensive tackle C.J. Mosley have shown flashes, and four of Mosley’s seven total pressures have come in the past two weeks, but overall the team lacks any consistent pass rushing threat.
Titans Cornerbacks vs. Jaguars Wide Receivers
After an impressive first three weeks of the season, Alterraun Verner’s performance has dipped and become a bit more up and down as the campaign has worn on. For the season, he has allowed a reception once every 10.9 plays in coverage, tied for 33rd among cornerbacks. That being said, he has yet to give up a touchdown in 2012, so while his performance may not be quite at the level it was as the season began, he’s still keeping opposing receivers out of the end zone. Opposite him, Jason McCourty may have given up five touchdowns but he has also recorded two interceptions and seven pass breakups. He’s tied for 47th at the position, giving up a reception once every 10.5 plays in coverage — however, the biggest concern with McCourty comes from the fact that he has given up a reception of 27 yards or more in four games this season.
At receiver, the biggest question the Jaguars have is whether or not last week, and the change at quarterback has sparked some life into the rookie season of Justin Blackmon or not. Heading into the game the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft had failed to impress, scoring just one touchdown and dropping four passes while totaling just 250 receiving yards. And then Sunday happened. Seven receptions for 236 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown that made you remember what had made the Jaguars so desperate to add him in the offseason. So, which Justin Blackmon shows up on Sunday? The one who averaged 6.56 Yards Per Route Run (YPRR) on Sunday, or the one who has averaged 1.31 YPRR for the season combined? Fortunately, he isn’t the Jaguars only threat at receiver with Cecil Shorts averaging 2.31 YPRR, good enough for 11th among all receivers.
Containing Chris Johnson
After running for a total of just 45 yards over the first three games of the season, Titans running back Chris Johnson has run for at least 98 yards in each of the past five and suddenly finds himself tied for fifth in the league with 869 yards on the ground. And yet, he still has an Elusive Rating of just 17.7, with just 16 missed tackles forced from 170 rushes. Despite this, he has taken advantage of some solid run blocking and made opposing teams pay if they give him space. With 321 of those 869 yards coming on runs of 15 yards or more, he has a Breakaway Percentage of 36.9%, with only four players in the league having a higher percentage of their runs come on gains of at least 15 yards. And limiting big runs is easier said than done, as Johnson has had a run of 30 yards or more in each of the past five games.