We were so close to getting some roast bison (thank you Brad Boughner for correcting me on my vernacular on what meat buffalo gives you), but those pesky New York bovines escaped our jaws at the last second. This week, we turn from hunting to protecting our hunting ground from rival big cats, as the Jacksonville Jaguars come to Detroit looking to catch a dub.
Unfortunately with the college season over, I can no longer do the little prospect section at the end. But do not fear, as I have replaced it with a rooting guide of sorts. So let us examine the cats from Florida to see how they tick and how we can best treat them (read: send them back home with their tails between their legs).
Record/Standing: 4-7, 3rd in AFC South
Expected W/L: 5.8-5.2
Strength of Schedule: .521
Their offence begins and ends with Trevor Lawrence. He attempts 35 passes a game on average, completing 66.5% of these for 23.3 catches. These go for 241.4 yards per game, or 10.4 yards per completion. Lawrence throws 1.45 touchdowns a game, along with 0.55 interceptions. His longest pass went for 49 yards. Lawrence averages more air yards (5.5) per completion than his receivers average yards after the catch (4.9), suggesting he is the creator in the offence rather than a facilitator. PFR discredits him with a bad throw percentage of 15.5% (roughly 5.3 bad throws a game), and his receivers with a 6.4% drop rate (2.2 drops a game). TLaw has taken his team on 2 game-winning drives so far this season, the latest of which happened last week against the Ravens. Lawrence has a passer rating of 93.6, a QBR of 54.2, and is Football Outsider's 12th overall QB by their DYAR metric (413) and 15th in DVOA (4.7%). What is concerning for us is that Peterson is somehow unlocking the Lawrence we saw at Clemson after all that Meyer did last year. Lawrence could throw the ball all over us if he continues his trajectory.
The Jacksonville offensive line allows Lawrence 2.2 seconds in the pocket on average (t-27th in the league). However, they only give up pressure on 17.1% of dropbacks, which is 5th best in the league. Football Outsiders has them as their 8th best line in pass protection, crediting them with a 5.9% adjusted sack rate. In the run game, they average 3.1 yards before contact per rush, which is tied for 6th best in the league. FO has them with 4.08 adjusted line yards (t-28th), a 51% power success rate (31st), and a 25% stuffed rate (worst in the league). Overall FO has the Jacksonville line as the 29th-best in the league, so we can hope for another good game from our progressing defensive line pieces.
Etienne gets handed the ball 12.1 times a game. He takes it for 66.2 yards (5.5 Y/A), 0.27 fumbles, 3.27 first downs and 0.36 touchdowns. Lawrence keeps the ball on average 3.55 times a game for 16.3 yards (4.6 Y/A), 0.73 fumbles, 1.36 first downs and 0.27 touchdowns. FO credits Jacksonville with 1.33 second-level yards (9th) and 1.48 open field yards (2nd). Given the OL stats stated above and these stats, it suggests most of the yards are created by the skill players rather than the line. This is backed up by Etienne being FO's 15th RB by DYAR (68) and success rate (53%), and 14th by DVOA (2.9%). Therefore, our LBs will have to be wary if he can hit the second level as he could easily hit an explosive play if he does so.
As is not a surprise given the amount of money they splashed on him, Kirk is their leading receiver out of the slot. He is targeted 8.27 times a game for 5.09 receptions (61.5% catch rate), 65.9 yards (12.9 Y/R), 0.36 drops (4.4%), 0.09 fumbles, 3.45 firsts downs, 0.64 touchdowns and a 98.5 passer rating when targeted. On the outside, former Lions good guy and bakery owner Marvin Jones Jr. is thrown at 5.3 times a game for 3.1 catches (58.5%) for 36.8 yards (11.9 Y/R), 0.3 drops (5.7%), 2 first downs, 0.2 TDs and an 84.5 passer rating. On the other side of the field, Zay Jones gets 7.9 targets a game for 5.8 receptions (73.4%), 56.2 yards (9.7 Y/R), 0.4 drops (5.1%), 3.2 first downs, 0.1 TDs and a 91.9 rating. From the flex spot, Engram catches the ball 3.36 times a game on 4.73 targets (71.2%), 32.4 yards (9.6 Y/R), 0.27 drops (5.8%), 1.36 first downs, 0.09 TDs and a passer rating of 96.3. Out the backfield, Etienne gets 2.82 targets for 2 receptions (71%), 18.4 yards (9.2 Y/R), 0.27 drops (9.7%), 0.91 first downs and an 88.4 passer rating when targeted. Kirk is their best WR by FO, ranking 19th in DYAR (127) and 26th in DVOA (4.8%). It's good our Seatbelt Gang look to be healthy as Jerry and Jefe are projected to be back this weekend to shut down the Joneses, forcing Lawrence inside with the ball towards Kerby. Likewise, given how Etienne is used in the pass game, I could see another Hutch breaking up a halfback screen this weekend.
The Jaguars have used three sets of personnel for more than 5% of their offensive snaps. The most common is of course 11, which they have used on 64% of their snaps, throwing the ball on 73% of these snaps, creating 0.05 EPA per play. They use 12 personnel on 23% of their offensive plays, running the ball on 58% of these plays for 0.07 EPA/p. 13 personnel is utilised on 7% of their snaps on offence, running the ball 77% of the time for -0.08 EPA/p. Overall, the Jaguars generate 0.05 EPA per play, throwing the ball on 61% of their offensive plays.
This matchup looks relatively good for us on paper. Their offensive line isn't good, which bodes well for our confident young defensive line, and their outside receivers aren't anything special. However, their best receiver plays the slot which is a weakness for us, and if Lawrence is able to get into a rhythm, he is able to take apart pretty much any defence. Getting pressure consistently will be the key for us on defence.
Jacksonville is Football Outsider's 8th-best defensive line against the run. They allow 4.07 adjusted line yards (t-7th), a 65% power success rate (11th), a 19% stuff rate (7th), 1.21 second-level yards (15th), and 0.53 open field yards (7th). Out of their starters, Allen is the best against the run stats-wise, averaging 3.18 combined tackles, 0.55 TFLs and 0.18 FFs a game. Despite his billing as a good run defender coming out of college last year, Walker isn't lighting up the stats sheet. He gets 3.36 combined tackles and 0.27 TFLs a game. As is the story with their offensive run game, the key to running on the Jaguars is to break the defensive line and attack the second level.
It is a different story with their pass rush. FO has them as the worst pass rush in the league, with a 4.1% adjusted sack rate. Again, Allen is the leader in the clubhouse for Jacksonville, with 2.45 pressures a game. This is made up of 0.27 sacks, 1 QB hit and 1.18 hurries. On the other side, the man who gave this preview its title gets 0.23 sacks, 0.36 QB hits and 0.73 hurries a game. Up front, the leader is Robertson-Harris. He averages 0.09 sacks, 0.36 QB hits and 0.18 hurries per game. Overall, perhaps surprisingly given the high draft capital they've put into the unit, the Jacksonville pass rush does not scare me in the slightest. I can see Decker and Sewell shutting down their edges, and despite Brown trending towards perhaps not playing, their interior is not good, though Goff does seem to panic at the hint of interior pressure at times.
Jacksonville is FO's 30th-ranked pass defence with a DVOA of 23.7%. The most targeted member of their secondary is their nickelback Williams. He is thrown at 5.45 times a game for 3.09 catches (56.7%), 31.5 yards (10.2 YPC), 0.82 PDs, and a passer rating of 79.0 in coverage. Their best corner looks to be Tyson Campbell. He is targeted 5.18 times a game, allowing a 52.6% completion rate (2.73 catches), 29.4 yards (10.8 YPC), 0.73 PDs, 0.18 interceptions and a 72.5 passer rating. On the other side, Brown has been decent. He has allowed 0.66 catches a game on 1.17 targets (57.1%), 8.83 yards (13.3 YPC) and an 81.2 passer rating when targeted. Further back, Cisco has been targeted 1.91 times a game for 1.45 catches (76.2%), 26.6 yards (18.3 YPC), 0.82 PDs, 0.27 interceptions, and a 117.7 passer rating. Beside him, Jenkins allows 2.09 catches on 3 targets a game (69.7%), 30.5 yards (14.6 YPC), 0.82 PDs, 0.09 interceptions and a 99.9 passer rating in coverage. Once again, this looks to be the Amon-Ra show. However, I could also see whoever plays the Z spot getting a few targets to test Brown who is a 7th-round rookie stepping up in the place of Griffin because of injury.
The Jaguars' favourite defensive personnel set is 245 nickel, which they run on 33% of plays. In this setup, they face a pass on 62% of plays, allowing 0.09 EPA/p. They run 344 base on 26% of their defensive plays, facing a run on 51% of these plays for -0.09 EPA/p. The Jags use 155 nickel on 16% of plays, being passed on on 95% of these plays, giving up 0.03 EPA/p. 335 nickel is run on 14% of the Jaguars' defensive plays, facing a pass on 62% of plays for -0.01 EPA/p. Overall, the Jaguars face a pass on 62% of their defensive snaps and give up 0.03 EPA per play.
The matchup between our line and theirs looks to weigh heavily in our favour. This is almost perfect for us to reset the offence after narrowly losing to the Bills last week (sorry for bringing it up again). If we can dictate terms with the run game and off play-action passes, we can grind the clock out and tire out their defence.
Patterson has been decent.
Cooke is good.
Agnew is a poor man's Kalif.
Keys to Victory:
Run the ball- Our line can push theirs back, allowing our backs to hit the second level. Dictate terms to them, grind out the clock, force them to play catch-up and Lawrence into making risky plays to try and win.
Don't be afraid to test Brown- The stats suggest he is tough in coverage, but he's a 7th-round rookie who's coming in for injuries. It's likely Chark will draw Tyson Campbell in coverage, so don't be worried about passing to Reynolds, Raymond, or maybe even Jamo.
Pressure Lawrence- If he settles into a rhythm, Lawrence would tear us apart. Don't let him. Get after him, make him uncomfortable, and make him make mistakes.
Don't let Etienne break free- If we can stop Etienne from hitting the second level, we can limit their run game and force Jacksonville into being one-dimensional.
Goff- 22/35, 270 yards, 2 TDs, 105.7 passer rating
Williams- 17 carries, 60 yards, 2 TDs, 1 target
St. Brown- 8 targets, 7 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD, 1 carry, 15 yards
McNeill- 2 tackles (1 solo), 1 TFL, 1 pressure
Anzalone- 9 tackles (5 solo), 1 PD
Okudah- 6 tackles (4 solo), 1 INT
Lawrence- 24/38, 260 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 89.8 passer rating
Etienne- 10 carries, 50 yards, 1 TD, 4 targets, 2 catches, 20 yards
Kirk- 10 targets, 7 catches, 75 yards, 1 TD
Robertson-Harris- 3 tackles (1 solo), 1 pressure
Allen- 5 tackles (3 solo), 2 pressures
Campbell- 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 PD
Hot take- Raymond has more offensive yards than Agnew has total yards
Score- Lions 34, Jags 24
Rooting Guide (for the Draft):
Houston- beat Cleveland
Chicago- beat Green Bay
Seattle (via Denver)- beat Baltimore
Lions (via La Rams)- lose to Seattle
How do you think the game will go? Who will win this week and be crowned as Top Cat? Who do you think will be the stat leaders, and what will the final score be?
Pod Links: linktr.ee/roarofthelionsuk