ReFo: Jets @ Jaguars, Week 14
The Jets against the Jaguars did not promise to be a game featuring vintage quarterback play, and with a 17-10 final score, you can probably imagine it wasn’t. Mark Sanchez and Chad Henne combined to throw for 296 yards, an average day at the office for plenty of NFL quarterbacks. They also failed to find pay dirt and threw a pair of picks (both from Henne) in an ugly case study of what is holding both sides back.
This ended up being a clash of defense and the running games as neither team was able to mount a particularly convincing challenge through the air, despite the odd impressive throw on both sides. In the end the Jets hung on at the death to claim a game they probably should have won, but all this will do is send both teams back to the drawing board to look at their quarterback options going forward.
Nevertheless, there were some other impressive, and not so impressive, plays outside of the quarterbacks, so let’s take a look at them.
New York Jets – Three Performances of Note
Coping on Defense
The Jets were in control all game as long as their defense was out on the field, and it happened thanks to a huge day from top pick Quentin Coples (+3.1). From 26 pass rushes Coples notched a sack, two hits and a hurry, including the pressure that came right up the gut into Henne’s face to cause him to just airmail the football to the New York secondary and finally crush the comeback hopes. Coples wasn’t alone on the D-line, as Muhammad Wilkerson chipped in with another fine performance in an excellent season for him. He also had a sack, as well as a hit and three pressures. The pair also made a few big plays in the run game, moving around the Jacksonville interior and disrupting the point of attack.
Mixed Day of Cromartie
When the Jaguars were forced to play this game without Cecil Shorts it became clear that Antonio Cromartie would be spending much of his time covering Justin Blackmon, the team’s top pick in the draft and top remaining receiver. Blackmon was thrown at six times in Cromartie’s coverage, catching just two passes for 19 yards while Cromartie was able to break up two. On the underneath routes Cromartie was actually surprisingly comfortable, undercutting an out pattern for one of his breakups and sticking with Blackmon on a double move for his second. Interestingly the only time the Jaguars really tested him deep with Blackmon the receiver got himself open beyond Cromartie before a poorly thrown football allowed him to close the gap and regain good position on the play. It’s possible that the Jaguars (reasonably enough) didn’t like the matchup deep, but the only time they explored it in the game it was open.
When the Jets can rely on their offensive line they are a much better side. Sanchez looked like a viable quarterback when he could count on that group to keep him protected and to grind out a run game and limit what he had to do. This game showed them back to somewhere approaching their best with none of the five grading negatively and only two (the tackles) giving up any pressure at all. D’Brickashaw Ferguson was beaten for a sack and Austin Howard a pressure, but other than that the line was able to keep Sanchez clean. Vlad Ducasse, rotating in at left guard, also gave up a hit, while Matt Slauson, on more than twice the snaps, had a perfect game in pass protection.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Three Performances of Note
Return on Babin
Given the nature of his contract the Jaguars are essentially auditioning Jason Babin for the remaining games of the season to see if they think he’s worth paying next year. Given his performance in this game, he might just be. From 43 snaps he rushed the passer 20 times and notched a sack and a hurry. That isn’t a great return, but his sack was the perfect pass rush from a defensive lineman’s point of view. With 10:47 to go in the second quarter he blew past Ferguson at left tackle, strip-sacked Sanchez and fell on the loose ball to recover it and complete the pass-rushing trifecta of sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery. He looked lively in the game and showed enough to ensure the Jaguars will be watching closely in the remaining games. He may never again be the prolific sack artist he was in 2011, but he brings the kind of burst and explosion that Jacksonville doesn’t have elsewhere.
Britton Struggling at LG
It’s never a good thing when you’re on to new positions as an offensive lineman after being a bust at your first one, only to struggle badly in your new spot as well. Eben Britton (-5.7) has been moved to left guard and things aren’t looking any rosier there. He was beaten for a sack, a hit and four hurries in this game, not to mention being flagged for a false start, as he just couldn’t live with the interior strength and speed of the Jets. The Jaguars’ line is far from being a poor unit, but Britton is clearly a weak cog, and in this game was primarily responsible for destroying drives and the offense’s chance to bring the game back.
More Mixed Days in the Secondary
Like Cromartie for the Jets, the Jaguars’ top cover corner Derek Cox had an interesting day. He was thrown at seven times in total, and gave up just one catch for 7 yards. However, he did give away a pair of ugly pass interference penalties on back-to-back plays that were really unnecessary, gifting the Jets field position they were struggling to achieve on their own. Overall, the Jaguars’ secondary did a good job of matching up against the Jets, who admittedly aren’t the sternest test in the NFL. In the end, no member of the secondary surrendered more than 34 yards in coverage, and the longest single pass given up went for 17 yards. They’ll take that performance even if it didn’t lead to a win.
– Justin Blackmon needed 12 targets to reach his 57 receiving yards but Jordan Shipley, emerging as a slot weapon after nasty injuries, needed just seven to notch his 55 yards.
– The Jets ran a lot of extra linemen in this game. In addition to the rotation at LG, OT Jason Smith saw 16 snaps as a sixth lineman, blocking well in the run game.
– Joe McKnight saw just a single snap on offense for the Jets.
PFF Game Ball
D-line mates Muhammad Wilkerson and Quentin Coples both dominated this game, but Coples did it on fewer snaps and came up huge on the final drive with pressure forcing the errant throw to seal it.