Outsider’s Look: Jacksonville Jaguars

Brian Bassett , TheJetsBlog.com

We try to look at the Jets opponents every week and take some of the statistical numbers from Football Outsiders to better understand what the Jets will be facing on Sunday.  Reminder, positive percentages are good on offense and specials, bad on defense.

blackmonPass Offense: -12.2% (30th)
Rush Offense: -20.6% (31st)
O-Line Adjusted Line Yards: 3.80 Yards (25th)
O-Line Adj. Sack Rate: 8.2% (28th)

Analysis: Let’s put some things in perspective.  For as tough a time as the Jets have had this season, it hasn’t looked like this.  Jacksonville has had their 10th overall pick from just a year ago go down with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder and been placed in IR.  In his stead, former Dolphins QB Chad Henne has come in and sparked the offense.  Still, with a substandard line and a hampered rushing attack because of a year MJD has been dealing with injuries, it’s been tough sledding for the Jaguars.  Their air attack has loosened things up in recent weeks specifically with the exploits of the now injured Cecil Shorts (concussion) and more recently first receiver picked in 2012, Justin Blackmon.

As a gameplan for the Jets, the weak line play will be to the Jets defense’s favor.  Knowing that the Jets should be able to provide some pressure up front and then force Henne to make some plays into the Jets solid secondary.  The Jets might place Cromartie on Blackmon to prevent the deep pass, something Henne and Blackmon have been getting in sync on recently and then Wilson would take whoever plays the second receiver spot, be it Shorts, Shipley or Kevin Eliott.  Still, the Jets are going to have to keep an eye on Marcedes Lewis, whose rise seemed to start in his 2009 matchup against the Jets as he’s one of the leagues better pass-catching Tight Ends.  Lewis only has four touchdowns on the year, but it’s the more than 50 targets and almost 400 yards that’s more the concern for me.  He’s a great possession receiver for a faltering Jags offense and can get some first downs for the team at times when the Jaguars need them.

Oh hey, just for kicks, go to the F.O. quarterback ranking page.  Reminder these rankings come from all objective data – regressional statistics that standardize playing against good and bad teams. With 32 teams in the league, you’ll notice Henne is hovering at replacement level (30th) while Gabbert was playing below replacement level (37th). Oh and where’s Sanchez stacking up?  Just above Gabbert at 36th … hmmm …

Pass Defense: 22.7% (27th)
Rush Defense: 3.9% (26th)
Defensive Adjusted Line Yards: 4.54 Yards (32nd)
Defensive Adj. Sack Rate: 3.8% (32nd)

Analysis: The 28th best, the 27th best, the 15th best, then the 26th best.  That’s the slate of defenses that remains to the Jets as they head into their game this weekend against the Jags.  With four games remaining and serious questions about what the Jets will attempt to do this offseason, what better showcase for a franchise quarterback than against a set of teams such as these?

Somehow, and somewhat remarkably the Jets offensive run blocking has gotten really good in recent weeks, shooting up to the 5th overall run blocking unit in the league at this point in time.  Part has been the group’s cohesion, part has been the Jets commitment to the run, and part has been that the running backs are starting to play with some life, most notably Bilal Powell who seems to be pushing Shonn Greene for carries at this point.  The Jets offensive line and running backs should have no trouble in attacking and besting this run defense and for that reason I know the Jets offense is going to have a good outing.  The Jets will likely play a run-heavy attack against the Jaguars and throw when they need to – essentially dialing back Mark Sanchez to get him comfortable and confident in running this offense again.

Mark Sanchez should have all the time he needs in throwing the ball.  No team is worse at rushing the quarterback than the Jaguars.  Jeff Cumberland (or if Keller plays) should have a harder time against this unit, but Kerley and Stephen Hill might trade some big catches against this team as they struggle with consistency and health in this secondary.

Special Teams: -0.6% (21st)
Analysis: This unit is just a hair worse than the Jets unit has been playing at this season, so maybe that’s some form of consolation.  The Jags are great at field goals, but suffer dreadfully on kickoff coverage and in their punt return game.  The Jets are going to have to do their best to gain as many yards on the Jags as possible in those two facets of special teams to make up for their deficiencies in their own field goal and punt coverage units.