Overreaction Monday leads to finger pointing – mine is Lady Luck.

Overreaction Monday leads to finger pointing - mine is Lady Luck.

Lets face it, the last two weeks have given us flashbacks to the years spent in the cellar on the AFCS. It’s easy to blame Blake Bortles, Doug Marrone, Todd Wash, Nate Hackett, the equipment guy, my grandma and the teal pants.

We can blame everyone/thing above except my grandma, but you can blame the Dolphins lover, too if you want – she’s not on social media. The real blame lies though in a slew of injuries.

If lacking depth to overcome the injury bug is a concern, then look at Dave Caldwell and/or Tom Coughlin. Neither of whom is getting fired today or this season, so move on to the issue at hand.

Here’s the deal, the team the coaches put together for week one, doesn’t exist right now. In a few short weeks, the promising roster looks like Swiss cheese.

The coaches and players spent months practicing together, honing techniques, work ethics and building chemistry. Fans now expect, in a two-week time span, for them to just plug in any player without a missing a beat.

That’s unrealistic.

Here’s the injuries and the impact.

Offensive Line:

Actually, Blake Bortles needs to be addressed first even though he’s not injured because it all starts with him. We know he’s not elite. We accept it. However, we’ve seen he can be good enough to win games. Hence the frustration.

The truth is, unless he does more running and throwing on the move, the Oline has to give him a tick more time because he doesn’t release the ball quickly. It is what it is and that’s not going to change.

That’s the dilemma facing Hackett, how to draw up plays that keep the entire banged-up OL from going on Injured Reserve. That’s where this team is headed.

What do the really good lines have in common? Consistency. They, and their quarterback, take time to gel, build chemistry and get a feel for how each blocks, reads a defense, where their strengths and weaknesses come from. As one unit, they learn to help one another. This isn’t something built in a day or a month.

This especially true in zone blocking when it’s about having a partner. Which leads us to the left side.

LT Cam Robinson went down, then Josh Wells. Now they’re on Josh Walker and that impacts…

LG Andrew Norwellwas seen as a great signing and it was – until he became hobbled. Power comes from the feet and radiates up and out. All technique comes from the feet, whether it’s OL or DL or QB, etc. If your feet aint right, you aint right.

Norwell has been dealing with calf and foot issues since training camp. He missed practices, and pre-season games.

C Brandon Linderthe QB of the OL, has been dealing with a knee.

RT Jermey Parnell has been dealing with a knee/calf ailment since training camp, as well.

Against the Patriots*, RG A.J. Cann suffered a right arm injury.

Add that all up and what you have is a revolving door of different linemen practicing and playing at different levels – no consistency and none are healthy.

Want to help Bortles, help the offense? Wave a magic wand and make them all healed. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option and I fear that until week ten, the bye, not much can change.

TE/WR/RB

Marqise Lee was the first to go down, then Leonard Fournette, then Corey Grant and then Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Oh, and TE Niles Paul took a hit this week.

Tell me, what kind of cohesion can be built when inside of a few weeks, all your starters go to IR or end up on the injury report week after week?

Then there’s T.J. Yeldon who’s playing with his own ankle injury. That’s our offense.

Defensive Line

If your offense is struggling, that usually means the defense has to play longer and harder to make up for a lack of points. What comes from a lot of playing time? Injuries.

DE Calais Campbell is the heart of the Line and he’s been hobbled for weeks.

DE Yannick Ngakoue has a shoulder, DT Malik Jackson has a back (those can take forever to heal)

While we haven’t seen Marcell Dareus on the injury report since training camp, he did miss the Vikings game. Meaning, he isn’t 100%, either. The question is, at what percentage is he? And with Campbell struggling, it’s up to him to work a little harder.

Defensive Backs

D.J. Hayden was the nickel and with him missing so much time, that puts more burden on the linebackers and defensive backs. Back-up Tre Herndon is nursing a hamstring.

Tashaun Gipson Sr. has been dealing with a couple different ailments since training camp. That puts more burden on, you guessed it – the LBs and DB’s. It can also affect the DL, too because they need to work harder.

Now Jalen Ramsey is dealing with a knee injury.

People keep screaming – play more man! Guess what, kiddies? Man is tough on the body. Todd Wash may not have a choice if he wants his players to survive to week ten. He’s a smart guy and a coach everyone loved until two weeks ago, That didn’t change, but the health of his team, did.

The End Result

So, here we are. An OL that must protect Bortles a hair longer, but can’t because they’re hurt. There’s no RB1 to help out, no WR1 he had built chemistry with over the years. He has a rookie WR who’s still learning.

The current WR1 is Keelan Cole, who’s streaky and new addition, Donte Moncrief. Bortles is on his third LT and down to RB3 as his starter and behind him is an old vet just added and an unsigned rookie from another practice squad.

The bottom line is, until, or if the OL can get and stay healthy, the offense is going to struggle and that struggle will affect the defense. The bad news is it sounds as if they’re going to rush Fournette back.

Read here about hamstring injuries.

All in all, there’s not much the coaches can do except channel the most creative game plans of their lives to combat such a hobbled team. It’s going to be rough on us fans, but finger-pointing and laying blame and asking for the heads of coaches isn’t going to help.

Make no mistake about it, this franchise wants to win, they’re not laying down on the job, they need our support. Injuries happen, they suck, but there’s not much they can do about it besides break the bank on trades. That isn’t much of an answer either because it doesn’t help the chemistry and consistency issue.

For right now, all we can do is cheer and give them the #DUUUVAL spirit because Lady Luck forgot to bless this team with health.

 

 

 

 

The Buzz about the Jacksonville Jaguars

This week, the buzz about the Jacksonville Jaguars is more like streaks of, what was that?! Reader beware, some of these reviews aren’t exactly gold stars, but a few would make good locker room conversation.

CBS Sports

9

Jaguars

Blake Bortles can’t play like he did in Kansas City or they won’t be a playoff team – no matter what. 5 3-2-0

*tough to argue with this*

Business Insider

Record: 3-2

Last week: 3rd

Week 5 result: Lost to the Chiefs, 30-14

Week 6 opponent: at Dallas Cowboys

One thing to know: In what could have been a preview of the AFC Championship, the Jaguars defense couldn’t contain Patrick Mahomes and the potent Kansas City offense. Jacksonville will have to be ready should there be a postseason rematch.

*this isn’t really true. The defense kept Mahones from throwing a TD and intercepted him, twice. When the Jags offense turns the ball over 5 times, that means more time Mahones had. Blaming the defense is just wrong. Even still, they had a chance to win the game, if not for those costly red zone turnovers.*

NFL.com

Previous rank: No. 3

Blake Bortles tossed 430 yards worth of passes on Sunday, shades of the Allen Boys days. Shades of classic Bortles, too: The QB’s five giveaways were enough to declaw the Jags. Jacksonville’s defense knew it would have its hands full all day with the Chiefs‘ explosive offense. Actually, the unit fared alright, creating turnovers and limiting Patrick Mahomes on third down, while twice being put in bad positions by an offense that couldn’t hold onto the ball. The missing element that could assist both the quarterback and Doug Marrone’s defensive unit? He’s probably in a cold tub at this very moment, nursing a bum hamstring.

*true, but they also need a healthy offensive line and maybe receivers who can be consistent? IS it the bye yet?*

Bleacher Report 

6. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2)

Jaguars signal-caller Blake Bortles tossed four picks—two in the red zone in a nightmarish performance despite his 430 passing yards. Mahomes threw two interceptions and logged his only score on a four-yard run in the first quarter.

*no comment and not much of a drop*

Sporting News

7. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-2 (last week: 4)

The Jaguars are chameleons because of their different play on the road, especially Bortles. The defense doesn’t go into a slump, but Bortles can’t regress when the running game is no longer automatic.

*assuming he means regressing, as in tossing picks, because he did throw 2 TD’s and over 400 yards. I’ll take that last part every week. Oh, and last year, we won on the road like warriors.*

ESPN

5. Jacksonville Jaguars

Record: 3-2
Week 5 ranking: 3

Rest-of-season SOS ranking:17th. The Jaguars’ toughest game left on the schedule is actually this Sunday when they travel to face the Cowboys, where FPI gives Jacksonville a 44 percent chance to win. The Jaguars are 5-2 since the start of last season, including the playoffs, in games as the FPI underdog. — Koontz

USA Today

8. Jaguars (4): Dr. Blake has an impressive 818 passing yards over the past two games, though Mr. Bortles’ six turnovers more than offset his better half.

*no comment*

Pro Football Talk

7. Jaguars (3-2; No. 5): Jalen Ramsey does great against receivers, but he struggles against return specialists.

*Hey, Jalen, Mike Florio threw some serious shade at ya, bro. (again). I believe after the word idiot, is his mug.*

PFT gets the FU award for the week.

 

4-3 formation, Cover 2 and other Defensive terms: Football 101

Jacksonville uses what is called a 4-3 formation. It employs four guys on the line called, Defensive Linemen, and four Linebackers. What formation a team uses, is determined by the personnel. In order for the tougher 3-4 to work, it needs a really good Nose Tackle and four superb linebackers. Most teams don’t have both.

Below is a base 4-3 Defense (under) in a Cover 2. This is a standard formation, for a standard play, usually on downs one and two against an average team. The defensive backs are in a Cover 2 (2 cornerbacks and 2 safeties).

To avoid saying generally and usually fifty times throughout the piece, please assume almost everything is a ‘usually’. This is about covering the Basics. Football 101. Just know that defenses use many formations that are based on down, distance and offensive formations, etc.

Going to put current names for positions to give you an idea of who plays where and why.

In case you were wondering, football diagrams always have the defense on top, so while it looks like the L should be R and vice versa, the players are facing the offenses; therefore, the diagram is correct.

Defensive Linemen (4-3)

*Both Ngakoue and Campbell do switch sides dependent on different factors*

The Right Defensive End is currently Yannick Ngakoue. DE’s are big guys, but also agile because the best ones can get to the QB and hit him, but also stop running backs.

Left Defensive End That’s Calais Campbell. Great ends like Campbell, can read the offense and know it’s a pass play and bull doze his way through the line to sack or break up the pass. He is a rare breed because he’s huge, bigger than most DE’s, but has the quickness of a smaller guy.

In a 4-3, ends are tasked with stopping the pass and harassing the QB. In a 3-4, the outside linebackers are predominately who do that because the ends (or at least one of them) is focused on stopping the run.

Defensive tackles (4-3)

There are two types: Nose Tackles and Tackles. They line up side by side.

Nose Tackle – Marcell Dareus and Abry Jones. NT’s are tasked with lining up based on the center.  NT’s are usually the biggest mamajamma of the starters. NT need long arms and superhuman strength, they set the tone, keep teams from running up the middle and force running backs to the edge. The Jags want teams to abandon the run and pass the ball because they have the best secondary on the planet.

In addition, forcing the run to the edge gives more time for the defenders on that side to get there to make a tackle. They’re also easier to see. When you have eight HUGE bodies on the LOS, a small RB can be tough to spot.

Defensive Tackle. Malik Jackson He takes on a Guard along with either a offensive tackle or the center depending on the play. The NT & DT work together to stop the run. Teams can and do swap out the NT for two DT depending on the play. In another article, I talk about techniques and that determines how these guys line up.

Linebackers

In a 4-3 defense, you have 3 LB’s, a Weak (Will), Middle (Mike) and Strong (Sam). LB’s can and do line up wherever they want depending on the play. For Jax’s base defense, I set it up on the offense in a 11 formation (1 RB, 1 TE). Each have certain roles: stop whatever type of body comes their way. Clog up the middle of the field, discouraging passes. Cover any passes that are to the middle of the field. In plays to the corners, back them up. Sack the quarterback.

Inside Linebackers (Will) and Inside Linebacker (Mike)

The Will  (Telvin Smith Sr. ) is usually smaller and quicker than the Mike and has better cover skills. He’s often going to get tasked to watch the slot, if there is one, but their job is to tackle any one with the ball in their hands.

Mike (Myles Jack wasn’t down) is the usually the run stopper and power tackler. DC’s (defensive coordinators) can use different skill sets to become a match-up nightmare. It all starts with the Fearsome Foursome (DL). Those men need to stuff/slow down the rush because if the Will is the ‘cover guy’, he’s not going to be great at stopping the run by himself.

*a MLB is referred to as Mike, but it is not the same as being the MIKE (read here for more info)*

Outside Linebacker (Sam), in a 3-4 there’s also a 4th guy, I call him Elephant, he’s their premier edge rusher. Leon Jacobs If you look below, you’ll see there is a TE in my typical offense. That is the strong side because there are more players on that side of the ball. If an offense uses two wide receivers on each side of the ball, the defense decides which side is more likely to be the “play” side and puts the Sam there.

Sams have two jobs: rush the QB and stop the outside runner. They typically are the LB that is the quickest with the best agility to bend under a reaching OT/TE.

Defensive Backs

The defensive players who cover the back field are called; defensive backs. They are the secondary line of defense, hence they’re also referred to as the secondary. DB’s are broken down into two types: corners and safeties. Cornerbacks tend to cover the corners of the field, the edges. Safeties cover the back and linebackers, the middle section.

Right Cornerback. A.J. Bouye. Jacksonville is blessed to have two CB’s so gifted. Shutdown corners rarely get the accolades they deserve. Players who make interceptions get the splashy news, but what’s overlooked is in order for an interception to happen, the ball has to be thrown to the player the corner is covering. The unsung hero is the guy who’s sticky glue taking away an option for the QB.

Left Cornerback is currently Jalen Ramsey The left CB lines up across from the Z WR. The Z is the quickest and fastest receiver and since he lines up closest to the QB and easiest to see, he gets a lot of action. This means his CB must be as quick and shifty.

In man coverage, if an opponent moves its WR1 or 2 to the other side, a CB will move with them. In zone coverage, he stays put and covers whomever comes into his area. A CB’s job is to not let the WR he is ‘covering’, to catch the ball, if he does, stop him quickly.

CB’s are fast, agile and must be scholars of the game. They’re in a battle of wits against the WR, and the QB. They anticipate what the play is, where the QB is going to throw the ball, stick with the WR who’s facing forward while he’s facing backward and within very tight rules of “no’s’. If you’d like t read more about corners, read here on standard, hard and soft press.

If plays get past the LB’s and the CB’s (yikes), the Safeties are there for mop duty. There are two kinds and they line up with the Strong Safety on the left and the Free Safety on the right.

As stated above, when the guys in front of them mess up, it’s up to these safety nets to keep the play out of the End Zone. The Strong Safety is the guy made to stop the run. He’s the bouncer. He’s got his eyes on the rusher and will move up to get him. Barry Church is our thumper.

SS play closer to the line. Occasionally they know a play is a pass and they will full on rush the passer. The types of attacks on the QB will be covered on another day as there are different ways. Since he’s bigger, he’s often teamed up with a LB to take on a receiving TE.

The Free Safety (Tashaun Gipson Sr.) plays further back, he is tasked with the deeper pass, either moving quickly to stop the WR who caught the ball already or break one up. He’s also the guy who reads the play so well, he calls out to his fellow DB’s what’s what.

While each safety has an expertise, stopping the run or coverage for a pass, both must be great tacklers. While the SS may be better at it, the FS is no slump. And while the FS has better hands and cover skills, the SS still must be a ball hawk, too.
Hope this was informative. Ask any questions below.

 

Off man/standard coverage simply explained: Football 101

“Off man” coverage begins seven yards back. Why is off man in quotes? Because there really isn’t such a thing as off man coverage. Corners standardly line up this way. When they’re up on the line, that’s press. I’m guessing people started saying off man because the corner isn’t on his man and wanted to give it name besides standard.

As explained in the hard and soft press coverage articles, both begin close to the line of scrimmage. Hard is all about jamming the WR with the hands and body, while soft press is more about using body positioning to disrupt the route. Touch them after five yards and you get a flag. Both are used in man coverage.

*to note: this is Football 101, so things are explained simply and in basic terms. The words, usually and typically can apply to most sentences. Also to *note, WR or TE applies. Finally, there is a whole series of Football 101, if you have questions about formations, terms used, etc., we most likely have it in an article. Use search to find it or go through the Football 101 page.

Standard coverage is seen more in zone defense. He needs space because while he may be tasked to mirror one guy, he has to cover anyone who enters his zone. At any point in time during the play, another receiver (WR, TE, or RB) can come into the zone and it is the CB’s responsibility to pick it up.

In some ways, playing press is easier than zone because you only have one guy to cover. This should mean you’ve watched countless hours of tape on him and know how he runs, his and his quarterback’s tendencies. The downside is it’s tiring. The CB’s are running, backpedaling, and shuffling every single play.

Playing zone and “off” coverage allows CB’s to cover less ground. If they’re seven yards back, they’re watching the play develop in front of them. If they have a deeper zone then there’s usually not as much back pedaling at the snap.

The goal is to keep the play in front of them. If the WR gets within his cushion, the CB will break from his back pedal and begin running into his deep zone while covering that man. If the play is on the other side of the field, then his job is to begin pursuit.

This means, give up the short hops, but stop the intermediate to deep passes. If a team has really good inside linebackers who can cover, the CB’s job becomes easier.

Mentally, zone is more exhausting because the CB is watching several players at once. If you’ve got a team who likes the spread (using four or even five receivers), the CB could have three men to watch (plus the QB’s eyes).

In those cases, it’s impossible to have both (or three) CB’s play man press because someone(s) is free to roam. Guess the wrong guy and you better have great safeties to mop up (we do). However, generally once safeties are needed, you’ve got a big chunk play.

Sometimes, one section of the field plays man while one or two play zone. This can occur if a team has only one top talent like the Bengals with A.J. Green. They can put their best CB on the star WR and the remainder of the defense can cover the rest with either zone, man, or a combination of both.

If they’re running a combo scheme, then as the WR runs his route with the CB on his tail, he’ll end up double or tripled covered as he runs through other defender’s zones. This can be an effective way to shut a star player down. Just look at how Jalen Ramsey took care of A.J. Green in 2017.

If a team’s best CB can’t hang with a wily and speedy devil like Julio Jones, then the CB1 may decide to play standard man because he wants the space to turn quickly. Jones could knock a man down and blow the doors off before he realizes what’s happened if he plays him on the line. Not to mention, Matt Ryan isn’t a schlub in fitting a ball in.

Which brings us to another reason a CB may want to play back: the quarterback. Some QB’s love their dink and dunk or have a tendency to stare the receivers down. This means, why play press man when you can just watch the QB and jump any route? Squat like a toad, dare him to throw to the open guy in front and break up every pass he telegraphs.

http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Flondon-games%2F0ap3000000849709%2FJalen-Ramsey-snags-diving-interception

Bad quarterbacks can make throws look good because of the space; however, once a defense gets a read on the QB, it’s often curtains. Routes get jumped, balls get batted, intercepted and a bad day ensues.

On the flip side, really good quarterbacks love zone coverage if they’re playing average defenses. They use their eyes to sell everything, but where they’re going, and good Offensive Coordinators will use that like a dream. Not to mention, that space gives them room to lead their receiver…right into the end zone. Even good defenses can get lost on occasion (see the SF game). Which leads us to why every team does use trickery.

Often, corners will line up as if they’re in zone in a standard formation, but actually they’re playing man press or the reverse. They’ll use this based on the QB, receivers and who they’re playing. It’s always about the art of illusion. We have a few articles on the different formations that can be used that apply to where the DB’s play, just search in Defense Formations.

In summation, playing in a standard “Off man” coverage (seven or more yards back from the LOS), gives the cornerback more choices and more room to make them. When to do so is based on the defensive play, trickery of the defensive coordinator, the skill level of the quarterback and receiver.