Diagnosing 2-14: Safety


Over the past week we have gone through the Jacksonville Jaguars 2012 roster to try and find the problems that led to the franchise’s worst-ever record: 2-14.  There were so many problems with this team that it goes well beyond one article. So, for the sake of simplicity, we took it one position at a time.

This time: safety.

Here are the other parts of the series: QBOLWRTERBDTDELB, CB

The safety position has become more secure for the Jaguars since 2011 due to the arrival of Dwight Lowery and Dawan Landry at free and strong safety, respectively.  The safety position is a last line of defense and need to be sure tacklers.  Landry and Lowery were very good in their first year with the team, but with Lowery out for seven games this season it was tough for Landry to pick up the slack.  This is largely due to poor play from backup free safety, Chris Prosinski.

Perhaps the worst part of it all is that so much of the Jags’ safety play is dictated by the good partnership that Lowery and Landry make up.  Lowery finished the year as the 16th ranked safety (free and strong) according to Pro Football Focus, while his replacement, Prosinski, finished as the 79th ranked safety.  There is a clear drop-off in Landry’s play from week five (when Lowery was out with an ankle injury) when Prosinski was in for Lowery.

The typical Prosinski tackle.  Source: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

A particularly poor part of Prosinski’s game was his tackling.  Prosinski had 10 missed tackles on 684 defensive snaps in 2012 compared to Landry’s 10 on 1,156 snaps.  Lowery was a much more sure tackler with just four missed tackles in 557 snaps.

Another part of the game that saw a significant drop-off due to Prosinski replacing Lowery was pass coverage.  Lowery had the fourth lowest QB rating for safeties when thrown against (30.6) compared to Prosinski’s second worst (137.8).  To say that this didn’t affect the play of the entire defense – especially Landry – would be an oversight.  Lowery allowed only 44% of passes coming his way to be caught compared to Prosinski allowing 82.6% of passes his way to be caught.

A lot of the poor play in both pass coverage and tackling was a result of increased playing time for a below average backup, Prosinski.  It was a major theme for the Jaguars, especially on defense, that handicapped the team from being competitive.

– Luke N. Sims

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