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    How the Jaguars protection punched Jacksonville’s ticket to the playoffs

    The Jacksonville Jaguars are the AFC South Champions.

    After beginning the 12 months with a 3-7 report, the Jaguars limped into their bye week after a loss to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs. Jacksonville confronted a three-game deficit within the win column within the division, behind the 6-3 Tennessee Titans.

    My how issues modified down the second half of the 12 months for Jacksonville.

    The Jaguars gained six of their closing seven video games, together with Saturday night time’s 19-16 victory over those self same Titans, clinching the AFC South and organising a house playoff sport on Wild Card Weekend.

    An enormous a part of their turnaround?

    Their protection.

    Throughout their 3-7 begin, the Jacksonville protection was across the center of the pack. The Jaguars protection ranked 18th within the league in Anticipated Factors Allowed per Play, and have been twenty first within the NFL in Dropback EPA Allowed per Play:

    However since then, the Jaguars have been one of many higher defenses within the league. Since Week 12, when the Jaguars got here off their bye week and beat the Baltimore Ravens by a closing rating of 28-27, Jacksonville’s protection has been sixth within the NFL in EPA Allowed per Play, and tenth within the NFL in EPA per Dropback:

    Whereas Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville offense garnered the majority of consideration in comeback wins over the Ravens and later the Dallas Cowboys, their protection has been an enormous a part of their turnaround.

    And that was on full show Saturday night time, significantly within the second half, when the Jacksonville protection annoyed Tennessee passer Josh Dobbs, and created the sport’s greatest play.

    We are going to get to the landing in a second, however first we are able to have a look at performs like this third and seven by means of halfway by means of the third quarter. The Titans have a 13-10 lead, and are simply exterior the pink zone. Dobbs aligns within the shotgun, as Tennessee makes use of a bunch formation to the best aspect of the sector.

    However the QB is flushed from the pocket, because of Arden Key on one aspect of the formation, and a stress bundle from the opposite aspect:

    Previous to the snap, Jacksonville places 5 defenders on the road of scrimmage, with three of these to the best aspect of the offense together with Key, who’s aligned over rookie proper deal with Nicholas Petit-Frere, and go rusher Josh Allen, who’s aligned exterior of Key. However with different defenders lurking on the opposite aspect of the formation, Dobbs shifts working again Hassan Haskins to the left aspect of the offense, the place Travon Walker and Foyesade Oluokun are lurking.

    Because the play begins, the middle, proper guard and proper deal with slide to the best. These three are left to dam simply two defenders, as Allen drops off the sting into go protection. On the opposite aspect, Walker and Oluokun each come after the quarterback, joined by cornerback Tyson Campbell off the sting.

    Walker and Oluokun are picked up, however Campbell has a free run on the quarterback. That begins to flush Dobbs to his proper, however as he begins to maneuver from the pocket, Key works previous Petit-Frere.

    Dobbs beats the primary two threats to the nook, however he can not beat the third: Roy Robertson-Harris. Below stress, the QB places a throw on the toes of Robert Woods, which falls incomplete.

    Early within the fourth quarter, an inside stunt allowed the Jaguars to get off the sector on third down. With the Titans dealing with a third and seven, Tennessee put Dobbs within the shot gun with three receivers to the best. Once more, Jacksonville places three defenders on the best aspect of the offensive line, this time with rookie go rusher Travon Walker exterior the left deal with. Rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd can be lurking, over the left aspect of the offensive line.

    Off the snap, Walker explodes from the sting and into the pocket, and his quickness is the preliminary cause Dobbs has to climb the pocket. That’s when the inside stunt begins to trigger an issue. On the within, Robertson-Harris and Key have executed a stunt, and that frees Key for a run on the QB.

    As we noticed on the primary instance, Dobbs is ready to keep away from the primary two threats. However he can not keep away from the third, which once more, is Robertson-Harris:

    Dobbs climbs the pocket to keep away from Walker, and wriggles out of Key’s grasp. However that’s when Robertson-Harris will get dwelling for the sack, forcing a Tennessee punt.

    Nonetheless, the Jaguars offense couldn’t get something going after that punt, and with simply over three minutes remaining, the Titans nonetheless led the sport.

    That’s when the sport modified, for good:

    This alignment and stress bundle is similar to the primary instance, the third and seven from halfway by means of the third quarter. Jacksonville places three defenders on the best aspect of the offense, together with Key over the best deal with and Allen on the surface. However once more, Allen drops into protection.

    On the opposite aspect, Walker and Lloyd have been lurking in two-point stances — just like Walker and Oluokun on the play from the third quarter — with a defensive again over the tight finish. This time it’s Rayshawn Jenkins who blitzes.

    And will get dwelling.

    After the sport, Dobbs indicated that he wanted to do a greater job of getting the ball out of his arms. He holds onto it only a half-step too lengthy, and that’s sufficient for Jenkins to pop the ball free, setting the stage for the defensive landing.

    Nonetheless, Tennessee had time to drag out the win, and the Jacksonville protection wanted yet one more cease. With the massive play being stress off the sting from Allen working in opposition to the rookie proper deal with:

    Allen beats Petit-Frere off the sting, getting his arms to the soccer and knocking it free from Dobbs. The QB manages to carry onto the ball, snatching it out of mid-air, however the lack of 5 yards places the Titans into third and lengthy.

    Jacksonville would pressure quick throws on the following two performs, and take over on downs.

    Within the coming days, the eye will doubtless flip to Lawrence, and the potential Wild Card shootout between him and one other of the sport’s younger passers, Justin Herbert. With the outcomes on Sunday, the Jaguars will host the Los Angeles Chargers subsequent weekend.

    We stay up for speaking about that sport.

    However earlier than turning the web page to that contest, it was essential to level out what the Jaguars protection did on Saturday night time.

    As a result of they gave us an opportunity to speak about what we’re going to see on Wild Card Weekend.

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