The Jaguars didn’t make it easy for the fans on Saturday night’s primetime bout against the Tennessee Titans. Throughout the game, it seemed like mistakes would follow any progress in the offense. Fortunately, the defense came through and played a huge role in the Jags’ 20-16 win over their division rival.
If the Jaguars are going to be making moves in the playoffs, they need to get better on offense. On the other hand, they’ve found ways to win games even when they can’t get anything going offensively thanks to their defense. Such was the case against the Titans. With that in mind, Here are three reasons the Jaguars’ defensive line deserves praise.
Derrick Henry continued to be a problem but the Jaguars limited his impact
As it was advertised, the Titans’ biggest threat on offense was running back Derrick Henry. The player known as King Henry was able to run at will in most cases against the Jaguars. But in spite of his success, the defensive line was able to limit some of the runs that could have gashed the Jaguars for many more yards.
According to Next Gen Stats, Henry had 18 rushes for 46 yards against a stacked box, tied for his most such rushes in a game this season.” Although he gained 109 yards on the ground, he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry.
There are not a lot of teams that have found success in stopping him from having his moments of big gains. Watching several defenders getting the stiff arm treatment wasn’t easy to watch. It did leave opportunities to get other players to rally to the ball more often than not. The defense continues to build upon the past couple of weeks of success.
The Jaguars’ defensive line had to step up late
The Jaguars lacked any significant consistent contributors on the defensive line outside of Dawuane Smoot for a good chunk of the season. But the front seven came through against Tennessee and registered 29 total pressures and four sacks.
There was a presence in the middle that might go unnoticed. Corey Peterson stepped in as a bigger-bodied player that could anchor the middle. Peterson was able to help stuff the run in crucial downs late in the game and finished with a Pro Football Focus overall grade of 86.2, the third highest among Jaguars players in Week 18.
Two other players who had made sure that Josh Dobbs was not comfortable throughout the game were Arden Key along and Roy Robertson-Harris. The pair had a combined four hits on Dobbs.
Travon Walker played a lot like his draft status. The former Georgia Bulldog was doing what he has all season, bull rushing straight at the backfield. He drew a penalty that negated a large gain by Henry. The Titans had a hard time stopping him on every down. There was a play at the end of the game that he was able to set the edge and drop Henry behind the line which would result in a 3-and-out.
The Jaguars’ defensive line was able to occupy the offensive line of the Titans to allow the game-changing fumble caused by Rayshawn Jenkins, which ended up being a deciding factor in the outcome of the game.
Josh Allen sealed the deal for the Jaguars in Week 18
Throughout the 2022 season, Josh Allen was discussed as someone that was getting pressure on the quarterback but wouldn’t finish plays. With injuries coming to the team, they needed some of the players to show out and Allen came up big when he returned the fumble Rayshawn Jenkins forced for a touchdown near the end of the fourth quarter.
Allen finished the game with four tackles, a tackle for a loss, and the fumble recovery that lead to the 37-yard touchdown that would seal the game. In retrospect, Dobbs was uncomfortable in the second half because the Jags’ defense was able to step up and make sure the Titans’ offense wasn’t able to move the ball as well as they did in the first half.
All things considered, Allen was one of the Jags’ biggest contributors against the Titans and one of the biggest reasons Jacksonville finished 9-8 and made the playoffs in 2022.