BOOK IT: 3 Things I Think about the Jaguars, Pass Rush Edition

  • 1. Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton are already a disruptive force against the pass. According to Pro Football Focus, there were 37 DT’s/NT’s who took more than 50% of their teams’ defensive snaps (given that a 4-3 has 2 interior starters and a 3-4 has 1, this roughly equates to all of the starters at the position). Alualu and Knighton each had 4 sacks, which ties them for 8th amongst the starters. They also had 4 QB hits a piece, tied for 13th. Alualu had 18 pressures, good for 14th, and Knighton had 16 pressures, good for 16th. Long story short – of the league’s starting DT/NT’s, both of our guys are in the top half in all of the pass rush measurables. After seeing what Alualu is capable of by effort alone, I’m very optimistic that refining his technique and being more accustomed to the pro game, he will be dominant next year. Check out this sack against Denver and this sack against Cleveland – PURE HEART. A formidable push from the middle is a key component to the overall pass rush. For one, the DT’s have a shorter distance to the quarterback; if they beat their man, they’re already right there to get the sack, swat, or at least make the quarterback soil themselves and make a hurried pass. Also, by occupying multiple blockers, the DE’s are freed up with one-on-one matchups and a blitzing linebacker may be left free. Adding D’Anthony Smith to the mix should add more pressure and keep Tyson and Terrance (TnT) fresher. With Kampman back in the lineup and our young DE’s improving, as well, the overall pass rush should improve.
  • 2. Aaron Kampman was on pace for a HUGE year last year and he will pick up right where he left off. Kampman had 14 QB hits in only 8 games last year, which still holds as #4 amongst 4-3 DE’s who played a full season last year. His 5 sacks and consistent pestering of the QB effected the game well beyond the stat sheet. But can he return from two busted knees in the past two season? Andrew, you crazy. No I’m not. Last year I wrote that it was no surprise that Kampman worked his way back so quickly to dominance from an injury because of his attitude – the same overacheiving, do-all-the-little-things-right attitude that turned him from a 5th round pick into one of the league’s premier pass rushers applies towards rehabbing his injuries. He’s already healthy again and as he told us last year, the man’s got huge patellar tendons and them puppies make some darn good replacements for busted ACL’s. 
  • 3. The Jaguars most effective rushers behind Kampman? Larry Hart and Derrick Harvey. Pro Football Focus keeps track of each rusher’s sacks, QB hits, and QB pressures. Each of these statistics is mutually exclusive (you cannot achieve two of the results at once – i.e. a sack is not also a QB hit and a QB hit is not also a QB pressure). Aaron Kampman produced a positive defense effect on the quarterback (sack/QB hit/QB pressure) on 11.5% of his 277 pass rushing snaps last year. I attributed a points system to come up with a “weighted result” for these statistic: a QB pressure is worth 1 point, a QB hit (basically pressure with a good thump on the QB after the ball’s released)  is worth 2 points, and a sack (which unlike the other two, always results in an incomplete pass, loss of down and loss of yardage) is worth 5 points. Given that the best result for any pass play is a sack, there is a possibility of 5 points on each play. Kampman’s average weighted defensive result is a .048, best on the team’s front seven (D-line and LB’s). Larry Hart (163 pass rush snaps/2 sacks/2 QB hits/13 QB pressures) produced a positive effect on the QB on 10.4% of his snaps and had an average weighted result of .033. Derrick Harvey (168 pr snaps/3 sacks/2 QB hits/9 QB pressures) produced a positive effect on the QB on 8.3% of his snaps and had an average weighted result of .033. Other notables: Austin Lane affected on 10.3% of his pass rushing snaps and had a .024 weighted average, Jeremy Mincey affected the QB 8.0% of his snaps and had a .031 weighted average, Aaron Morgan affected the QB on 10.9% of his snaps for a .028 weighted average. I think that means Larry Hart and Aaron Morgan could develop into potent pass-rush specialists next year, Austen Lane is a good run defender with some decent pass rushing upside, and Mincey might be more of a rotational guy. But it’s all about what happens on the field in 2011…

What do you expect from the pass rushers next year?

– Andrew Hofheimer