UFR: Titans defense against the Jaguars

As I did for the offense earlier in the week, I took an extended look at how the Titans’ defense played against the Jaguars.  Once again, I’ll spare you the full detail (follow this link if you want to see it), and will instead give highlights:

  • The Titans’ defensive line is not very good.
  • The Titans’ defensive tackles in particular were unable to win 1v1 or 2v3 on anything like a consistent basis against the Jaguars’ defensive line in the run game.  Far, far, far too often the Jaguars’ offensive linemen were able to succesfully get to the second level and block the linebackers.
  • Aside from a few good moments by William Hayes, the defensive line provided very little pass pressure against Luke McCown.  I thought the Titans might be able to take advantage of no Eben Britton at right tackle, but that didn’t happen on anything like a consistent basis.
  • The Jaguars did not seem very interested in trying to throw the ball down the field, probably in large part because their quarterback was Luke McCown, and he’d been the starter for less than a week. But the bigger reason was they didn’t have to.
  • The defensive was not able to reliably disrupt Luke McCown or the Jaguars’ short pass offense.
  • The one partial exception to that was the Jaguars were in love with the quick pass and bubble screen to Mike Thomas.  Since I have him in a PPR league, I was happy with this but it rarely provided much of a threat to the Titans on defense.
  • Overall I’d say Barrett Ruud played an okay game. Nothing great, but not horrible either. He made some smart plays, and some where I think he should have done a better job. When I wrote about the Ruud signing, I linked to a couple posts on what Ruud is and isn’t.  He’s not Stephen Tulloch, and I don’t think the Titans want him to play as aggressively in most situations as Tulloch played.  Unfortunately, I recall him only being in coverage once, and that against wideout Mike Thomas. He’s a good cover MLB, but not a corner.
  • This isn’t a very good comparison, but I’m going to make it anyway. Akeem Ayers reminded me of Brian Cushing as a rookie. Cushing the rookie was much, much more productive when he just had to be a big seek-and-destroy player, and when he had to hesitate or read was less effective.  Ayers doesn’t have to do as much reading as I think Ruud does, and is prone to going too far in the wrong direction when he does.
  • Jason McCourty’s slot blitz that resulted in a forced fumble was the only blitz I liked. The Verner blitz from the outside position on the big third down completion to Thomas over Ruud late in the game was particularly ineffective.
  • Not play related: I’m pretty sure the inadvertent clock stoppage following McCown’s incompletion ended up costing the Titans nothing, as the refs did stop the clock about :12 late and the play before the two-minute warning would have burned that time.
  • The Jaguars had success against McCourty in what looked like man coverage with in-breaking routes.

The biggest takeaway is the defensive line was just was unproductive as I expected them to be, and Jerry Gray was not able to use either the linebackers or the defensive backs in a way that could make up for that weakness.  I’d expect the Ravens, another good run-blocking offensive line, to have their way with the Titans’ defensive front seven, and Joe Flacco to do a better job of attacking the Titans vertically if they do bring an extra safety down in the box.

As with the offense, let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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