The Jacksonville Jaguars will have to deal with several playmakers when they host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football. Of the bunch, Lamar Jackson will be the one that will require most of their attention, and former NFL head coach Chuck Pagano says it could be a long day for the Jags.
Pagano via The 33rd Team, along with Rich Gannon and fellow ex-coach Mike Martz, went over the Sunday Night matchup. The former Indianapolis Colts head coach points out Jacksonville has struggled to bring the heat up front, with Josh Allen getting doubled to lessen his impact.
"They've had a hard time getting after the quarterback. They can't create some play in the back end," Pagano said via the 33rd Team. "They've got to play some zone coverage. They're a little beat up in the back end which doesn't help, they got beat up last week and lost some guys. I don't know what their availability is going to be, but they don't have big-name shutdown, lockdown corners. They've got the one pass rusher that can get home in Josh Allen and people are just doubling him, taking care of him and just having their way."
Allen is having a career year but is coming off a game in which he only mustered four total pressures. He and bookend pass rusher Travon Walker will need to contain the edges and rattle Lamar Jackson as often as possible.
Cornerback Tyson Campbell has already been ruled out for the bout, so sophomore Montaric Brown will be filling in for him. Opposite Brown is Darious Williams, who's registered four interceptions this season and ranks second in the league with 15 passes defensed. Their main assignment will likely be Odell Beckham Jr. and Rashon Bateman, respectively, while Tre Herndon lines up in the slot. Herndon was in the concussion protocol earlier this week but has been cleared for the game.
Martz then praises Lamar Jackson, noting that containing the edge was enough to slow him down early in his career but he's now developed into a complete passer.
"The problem is that before when he got to the back of his drop, you try to contain him, just not let him outside right, you don't have to sack him, just don't let him outside of the perimeter, where he needs to play. That was all well and good. Then all of a sudden he's developed into this pretty good pocket passer, where gets back, then hits once his twice, and he's off to a second or third receiver," Martz said.
Martz continued, "He hadn't done that before. Well, now that's driving people crazy because now he's developed into a real live NFL passer who looks like he's been doing it for a long time, and is disciplined. His eyes don't come down to the pass rush anymore. So he'll stand there and make throws, things are not seen done before. In the clutch, if he has to take off and go, he does but it's not the first he's looking at."
Pagano goes on to say that the Jaguars will have to be physical, discipline and set the edge. Otherwise, they run the risk of letting Jackson go the distance and turn into a nightmare for the defense.
Jackson was hindered by former offensive coordinator Greg Roman's rudimentary system that revolved around the running game. With Roman gone and under Todd Monken's tutelage, Jackson has seen an improvement as a pocket passer, completing a career-best 66.8 percent of his passes. He's still a threat to take off at any given time but he doesn't need to solely rely on his skills as a runner to win games.
The Jaguars have get out of their own way to stop Lamar Jackson
The Jaguars couldn't contain Jake Browning and Joe Flacco in Weeks 13 and 14, making them look like Joe Burrow 2.0 and Joe Flacco circa 2012 respectively. Things won't get any easier when they face Lamar Jackson, who's significantly more athletic than their AFC North counterparts.
Leaving Jackson aside, the Jacksonville defense will also have to account for the running back tandem of Gus Edwards and Keaton Mitchell, who together with Jackson give Baltimore a dynamic rushing attack.
If the Jaguars' defense wants to make a stand, they'll need to play disciplined football, wrap up tackles, and shut down the Ravens' running game. If they do, they'll have a chance to come out on top on Sunday Night Football.