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Notes from Titans-Jaguars, Week 17: Defense

After writing up the offense yesterday, it's time to put together my thoughts on how the Titans defense performed in Week 17 against the Jaguars after watching the all-22. As I did for the game against the Jets, this writeup is a somewhat organized collection of my thoughts on each individual play.

1. As a reminder of what happened in the game, the Jaguars came out and moved the ball very well, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions. They were unable to come close to the end zone after that, though. One reason was the Titans finally started taking advantage of Chad Henne's attempt to give them the football. Even before Zach Brown's first interception late in the first half, he, Akeem Ayers, and Jason McCourty failed to haul in potential interceptions. Ayers' missed pick was a play where he jumped the route and had the ball go through his arms. McCourty's was a two-man route where he and Griffin over the top had the receiver blanketed, and Henne made a throw he had no business attempting. Brown's missed pick came when it looked like he was playing robber coverage and Henne either didn't see him or thought he could stick the throw in there to Blackmon, who was ahead of McCourty on a dig route.

2. Jacksonville's offensive line outside of left tackle Eugene Monroe is nothing to write home about, but Jurrell Casey stood out with a lot of positive plays. Just a sampling of my notes: beats Brewster with quick pressure; gets inside guard and moves down line to make play; wins and gets pressure on a play where Henne forces the dumpoff; great interior pressure against Whimper that created a tackle for loss. Nobody else stood out nearly as much to me in a positive way.


3. In preparing to watch the all-22, one of the players I most looked forward to getting better look at was Tommie Campbell. One of the things the Jaguars did early in the game was run some no-huddle when they were in 11 personnel against the Titans dime defense. Ayers was the only linebacker on the field, but Campbell was another interior-type defense and the Jaguars really took advantage of the Titans by running the ball down their throats. Lack of size was part of that, but lack of gap discipline by Campbell was a key factor as well. I really noticed a couple plays where he was in coverage, including a Zach Brown's second interception where he got his hand in on a quick slant and forced a deflection.

4. The Jaguars weren't targeting Campbell because they were targeting Coty Sensabaugh. It wasn't quite "see Sensabaugh, throw ball," but it was close to it-I counted nine pass plays where Henne was looking in his direction. One thing the Jaguars did a lot of was throw quick outs to the slot receiver he was lined up over, and they generally had good success doing it. When they didn't, it was because Sensabaugh had help from the outside defense in what looked like zone coverage (or pattern reading, or opportunistic help, or …). Either way, I saw Sensabaugh targeted a lot and didn't see much positive from him. I'm not going to put him in the Quinn Johnson "I can't figure out why he's on the team" category, but that I feel the need to even make that disclaimer says what I think about his level of production this year.

5. I said some nice things about Derrick Morgan in the Jets game, but he didn't stand out to me nearly as much this game even though he had two sacks (one solo and two shared ones). Sacks sometimes fall a lot on the quarterback, and both of his came when Henne's initial read broke down for some reason and he just stood there and got sacked because that's what Chad Henne does. I suppose those kind of make up for the sacks Ayers and Brown got against the Jets that Morgan created, but I was not as impressed as I expected to be, especially given the favorable matchup.

6. I believe this was the first game where Akeem Ayers really got to play the MLB role in the nickel package, and I'm not sure I want to see him there again. I don't see him as a great range player, and there was one dumpoff that went for 21 yards where he really looked bad in space. The positive notes I have for him are for his forced fumble as a help defender on a pass with McCourty in coverage and as a pass rusher.

7. Zach Brown of course got a ton of plaudits for his two pick-6's, but he remains a work in progress. You see the range and the speed at times, but I also noticed some slow play recognition at times and some other very rookie moments. Overall, I got about what I was expecting and remain bullish on his future.

8. I counted four plays with Alterraun Verner in coverage, all of them completed, all of them successful for the Jaguars.

9. Nobody else really stood out to me in a particular positive or negative way. McCourty had a very McCourty game, some good plays and some plays where he doesn't look like a true #1 corner. Sen'Derrick Marks was okay, but I didn't notice him much. Kamerion Wimbley didn't stand out to me. Michael Griffin's interception was a horrible overthrow, but overall I didn't see a lot that involved him. I'd be fine if Al Afalava never started a game again.

Once again, if there's anybody I haven't mentioned you're curious about, let me know and I'll say what I can about him.