We saw it against the Baltimore Ravens in the third preseason games and thought it was an anomaly. Joe Flacco easily led the new fast-paced offense of the Ravens down the field, back up the field, and hit every pass in sight. Turns out it wasn’t just an anomaly, it was reality. The Jags simply can’t stop faster paced offenses.
After keeping the Vikings’ offense in check for most of the first half, the purple and gold exploded in the final two minutes for big gains, carving the defense up as it moved down the field in simplistic, methodical fashion. Following that success, the offense came out with some more pep in the second half and continued to slash the defense for big gains on quick plays. I don’t know if it’s poor conditioning or just poor scheming, but the superb play of earlier in the game disappeared from almost every position when the Vikings started to move the ball a little faster.
This is a major concern.
Last year the Jags defense seemed dominant. If not dominant, then at least competitive. But now (based on a small sample size of two games of course) it looks like teams know how to exploit the deficiencies of the defense.
This is a major concern, not because of the implications it has on the defense, but because of the implications of what it will do for opposing offenses. The modern NFL is a passing league. Not only that, but it’s a fast passing league. Peyton Manning perfected this with the “sugar huddle” in his days with the Colts. Get the offense on the field in high speed, passing packages and march down the field. Quickly, defensive players put their hands on their hips and begin to get winded. It’s not really a problem with the defense, it’s a problem with the rotation. Without the ability to get the predicted fresh legs in on defense, the offense can remain (comparatively) fresh.
Some defenses are good at stopping a faster-paced offense. Some aren’t. It appears that the Jags are in the latter camp.
With the Vikings game, Christian Ponder showed that even middle of the road quarterbacks (I’m predicting a decline again for him next week – it’s tough to maintain 74% accuracy after all) can move the ball effectively when using a faster offense against the Jags.
I think this could all change when Derek Cox gets back and alleviates some pressure that builds up on the defensive backs and oozes into urgency by the front seven. Cox is a shutdown corner that provides a familiar, reliable presence in the defensive backfield so the linebackers and defensive line can go to work knowing they have high quality players to back them up on the second level.
But for right now, when the offense starts to move things a bit quicker expect a dropoff in the ability of the Jags’ D to defend.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims