ReFo: Jaguars @ Titans, Week 10
This was apparently surprise week in the NFL. Not only were the Colts knocked off by the Rams thanks to three touchdowns by the erstwhile anonymous Tavon Austin, but the Jaguars finally got off the deck with their first win of the season which was also the new regime’s first win.
They had a helping hand when Jake Locker injured himself and had to be replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick, but at that point in the game the Jaguars were already 13-0 up and things had a bad feeling about them for the Titans, who couldn’t stop losing the handle on the football.
In truth, the Jaguars didn’t play particularly well with a couple of exceptions, but this was one of those games where the team could just sit back and take advantage of the football that kept coming their way.
Jacksonville: Three Performances of Note
Marcedes in Full Flight
One of the few impressive performers on offense was Marcedes Lewis who graded out with an impressive +3.6 for his day’s work. A lot of that was solid run blocking on the edge, and almost all of the passing grade came from his ridiculous rumbling 27-yard catch and run that involved defenders bouncing off him as he ran up the left sideline. This one play summed up Lewis’ ability with the ball in his hands as he spun away from the first man, cut inside the second, bounced off a linebacker, and then delivered a nasty ‘sit down!’ stiff-arm to CB Alterraun Verner before finally being dragged down from behind by the man he originally beat on the play, Bernard Pollard. It’s a shame the Jaguars aren’t in a position where they can make better use of Lewis given their QB position, but this was a teasing glimpse for the fanbase.
Some Standouts on D
Leading the team in defensive stops, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see Geno Hayes mentioned here with a fine grade. Hayes made seven solo tackles and chipped in with another five assists as he got all over the field, making defensive stops on six of those plays. He flew through to blow up a few run plays, but his really fine work came in coverage, where he was thrown at nine times, and allowed just five receptions for 26 yards, routinely stopping players close to the line of scrimmage and well away from the first-down markers. He was joined with a fine day in coverage by Dwayne Gratz. Like Hayes, Gratz also made a few nice plays in the run game, but his highlight came with his interception, playing his deep third in Cover-3 perfectly, splitting the distance between two vertical routes before breaking inside and picking off the pass.
Red All Over the O
As I said earlier, the Jaguars didn’t play particularly well for the most part, and the offense was once again a fine example of that. All five of the starting linemen graded in the red, with the grades getting as bad as a -6.0 for Uche Nwaneri and -4.6 for RT Austin Pasztor. The pass protection for the most part wasn’t terrible, but the unit universally let themselves down run blocking, which was especially problematic since Maurice Jones-Drew was the only part of the offense that ever seemed likely of getting much done on a consistent basis. Of the 41 yards he gained from 21 carries, just nine of those came before he was hit by a defender.
Tennessee: Three Performances of Note
You might not know it from the score, but the Titans’ D actually played very well in this game, despite being put in a hole by the offense turning the ball over repeatedly. Jurrell Casey was once again in fine form, but he was joined in the rotation by excellent days from Antonio Johnson (+4.3) and Ropati Pitoitua (+4.6) in particular who each dominated the Jaguars’ offensive linemen in the run game, collapsing holes, forcing cuts, and generally making a nuisance of themselves all day. Mike Martin, Sammie Lee Hill, Kamerion Wimbley, and Derrick Morgan also all graded in the green leaving Karl Klug as the only defensive lineman failing to do so from his 14 snaps.
Pollard On Thin Ice
The league is cracking down on a particular brand of safety that would once have been seen as an enforcer and is now simply being portrayed as reckless and undesirable. Bernard Pollard is skating on the wrong side of that line at the moment, or at least certainly in this game. He was flagged twice for shots to the quarterback’s head, once when he was sliding to the ground after a scramble – inexcusable in today’s league – and once on a blitz when he leaped up to try and get in the throwing lane and decided once the ball was gone that he might as well tackle the quarterback by the head while he was there. Pollard can be a pretty good player, but he is experienced enough that he can’t keep getting flagged for penalties that foolish.
The Titans went hard at the guard position, drafting Chance Warmack with their top pick in the draft and adding Andy Levitre on the other side in free agency. In this game, Levitre was the player who excelled while Warmack struggled. Levitre had an excellent day run blocking, routinely getting in the right spot and opening up sizeable cutback lanes with a cut block on more than one occasion. He was also perfect in pass protection, as were all but two of the Tennessee offensive linemen. One of those two, however, was Warmack. Though he wasn’t disastrous in the run game, he was far from elite however, he surrendered two pressures in pass protection, one of which was a major problem. Beaten to the outside, he held his man in the end zone, coughing up a penalty that resulted in a safety and the Titans losing possession.
– The Titans surrendered just six hurries on offense with only two players accounting for all of them.
– Under pressure, Chad Henne’s passer rating was just 25.6
– Alterraun Verner missed two tackles in this game. He had missed just one all season heading into it.
PFF Game Ball
For being all over the field making plays on defense, Geno Hayes takes home the PFF Game Ball.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam