Aug. 13, 2011; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils linebacker Brandon Magee (8) is taken off the field after tearing his achilles during a scrimmage at Kajikawa Practice Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

Talking Offense and Defense: The Achilles Heel

In this second installment of the New Season Series, we’re going to talk weaknesses…  and a discussion of weaknesses must start with the offense.  Everyone knows our offense was bad last year.  Catastrophically bad, some might say.  While Jaguars fans, including B&T’s authors and readers, are quick to come to our team’s defense, the numbers don’t lie… and they’re bad.  Real bad.

Let’s start off with our offensive rank last year.  We were 31st.  But 31/32 doesn’t really tell the whole story.  Let’s dig deeper and start with our passing offense.  Ranked 32nd overall with a -38.9% DVOA (which is a measure of our passing efficiency while taking variables like opponents, etc. into account), our passing game fell 15-25% behind “juggernauts” like Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Arizona and far, far behind teams with real NFL passing games.  Our rushing attack, while featuring  an All-Pro running back, was ranked 21st in the league – which probably had a lot to do with the 8 and 9 men boxes MJD and Co. faced all last year.  Our secondary offensive statistics, on a per drive basis, weren’t any better.  We were 32nd in yards/drive, averaging only 22 yards per drive, 30th in points/drive, 30th in tds/drive, and 31st in punts/dr.  Our only high rank was in variance – we were the third most consistent team in terms of drive statistics.  However, when all your statistics are negative, being consistent isn’t a positive thing.  In fact, it shows that you rarely ever had a game that was much better than your lowly average.

The offensive statistics I referenced above, courtesy of Football Outsiders, are highlighted below.  Drive stats and pass rankings are highlighted in yellow.

Team

Drives

Yds/Dr

Pts/Dr

TDs/Dr

Punts/Dr

Var

Rank.

JAC

188

22.05 (32)

1.15 (30)

.112 (30)

.527 (31)

3.5%

3

 

 

TEAM

OFF.
DVOA

LAST
YEAR

WEIGHTED
OFFENSE

RANK

PASS
OFF.

PASS
RANK

RUSH
OFF.

RUSH
RANK

32. STL

-22.8%

30

-23.3%

32

-23.0%

31

-7.1%

28

31. JAC

-21.4%

14

-17.9%

30

-38.9%

32

-1.3%

21

15. TEN

6.0%

20

1.1%

17

21.8%

13

-9.5%

32

1. GB

39.2%

7

38.9%

2

73.2%

1

10.9%

6

 

But, there is a small bit of positivity to take from last year.  Relatively.  Our offense and its numbers were dragged down by a particular offensive play – the play action pass.

Yes, the seemingly harmless and potentially game-changing play action pass was the major downfall for the Jaguars on the offensive side of the ball.  While we saw a -38.9% efficiency rating for our passing offense – a number that every team in the league ranked at least 15% higher than – our play action passing offense was monumentally worse: -69.5%.  No other team in the league was worse than -30%.  During play action passing, we averaged a measly 3.2 yards per pass.  3.2?! Given MJD’s 4.7 yards per carry last season, it’s pretty clear that the play action pass was a negative play for us.   If we removed the play action pass from our offensive repertoire, our average yards per play jumps up to 4.7 – right at MJD’s ypc.  Although those two numbers being equal is still an indictment of our passing game, the 2011 Jaguars’ offense without play action averaged a relatively reasonable -29.6%, which ranked 31st in the league and within 2% of weaker offenses like St. Louis, Denver, and Arizona.  Our -31% difference in efficiency between play action pass plays and non-play action plays was the second highest in the league.

Those statistics are listed in a friendly table below with teams to reference to.

 

Offense

PA%

Yds/Play
with PA

DVOA
with PA

Yds/Pass with PA
(Actual passes only)

DVOA with PA
(Actual passes only)

Yds/Play
no PA

DVOA
no PA

Yds/Play
Dif.

DVOA
Dif.

JAC

22%

3.4

-60.9%

3.2

-69.5%

4.7

-29.6%

-1.3

-31.3

STL

24%

5.8

-11.0%

5.8

-12.2%

4.5

-30.1%

DEN

23%

7.3

39.2%

7.4

38.5%

5.0

-28.9%

ARI

15%

8.3

30.3%

8.2

26.4%

5.6

-26.7%

TB

15%

7.2

-25.1%

7.2

-29.7%

5.9

-2.3

 

Curse you Tim Tebow and your play action skills! Source: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

 

But alas, the play action not only killed the offense – it also killed our defense.   The 5th best defense in the league against both passing and rushing dropped to the 11th best against play action.  Not a huge drop, you might say, but we’re talking about a difference in tiers here.  We’re talking about going from being mentioned with defenses like that of the 49ers, Bears, Falcons, and Steelers to defenses like the Redskins, Cowboys, and Rams.   The drop, while not cataclysmic, is significant.  The difference between our defense’s play against the play action versus non-play action offensive plays is measured by a metric called DVOA difference.  Ours was 14%, the 14th highest of the 32 teams in the league.  What does this mean, you may ask?  Well it means that of the 32 teams, we were the 14th worst when the defense’s play against play action is compared to the defense’s play against non-play action.  That is, we were ranked 18th in defending play action relative to our ability to defend overall.  Now, this is not to say that we’re alone as a top defense that struggled against the play action – a look at the table below will show you that San Francisco and Pittsburgh also struggled against the play.  However, it does seem to be one major area where our defense (and the 49ers’ and Steelers’ defenses) has significant room to improve.

 

What does this mean for the 2012 Jaguars?  Well, you don’t have to be a genius to figure it out.  Our defense will probably be seeing a heavy dose of play action early on from teams testing our surprisingly aggressive (or just easily deceived) defense.  On offense, you might see a bit less play action early on unless the coaching staff feels comfortable with the development of Blaine’s footwork and pocket awareness.

 

Stats below.  And comments below that!

 

Jaguars Defense against Play Action; Comparison with the NFL Defenses ranked 3-7

Defense

PA%

Yds/Play
with PA

DVOA
with PA

Yds/Pass with PA
(Actual passes only)

DVOA with PA
(Actual passes only)

Yds/Play
no PA

DVOA
no PA

Yds/Play
Dif.

DVOA
Dif.

SF

19%

9.2

10.5%

9.3

8.8%

5.4

-10.5%

3.8

20.9%

CHI

21%

6.7

-5.5%

6.6

-7.5%

6.1

-5.5%

0.5

0.0%

JAC

21%

7.5

6.2%

7.6

2.1%

6.0

-7.8%

1.5

14.0%

ATL

20%

8.4

-5.4%

8.5

-5.1%

6.0

0.9%

2.4

-6.3%

PIT

15%

5.7

9.6%

5.5

4.3%

4.9

-14.0%

0.8

23.6%

 

 

– Zain Gowani

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