Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Why Jags Should Blitz Titans

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Why Jags Should Blitz Titans

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

The Jaguars defense needs to go London style for Thursday's game against Tennessee at EverBank Field.

That means a heavy dose of blitzing.

The Jaguars have backed off bringing pressure in their last two games compared to their strategy in the 34-31 victory over Buffalo on Oct. 25 at Wembley Stadium.

Jaguars coach Gus Bradley installed a game plan that brought extra pressure on 38.8 percent of EJ Manuel's attempts, a season high.

The same formula will work against the Titans, but for different reasons.

Blitzing Manuel made sense because of his lack of talent and decision making.

The Titans don't have that problem at quarterback.

Rookie Marcus Mariota is living up to his draft status as the second overall pick. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has thrown 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in three starts on the road. On the season, Mariota is completing 65.6 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and six picks.

"For being as young as he is, his poise really stands out," Bradley said. "He's got a really good, quick release, makes really good decisions in that intermediate game and quick game. He does really well on that. He throws on the run pretty well."

The Jaguars (3-6) shouldn't aggressively blitz Tennessee (2-7) because of Mariota. They should blitz the Titans because of what's around him.

The offensive line has been in constant flux, as only left tackle Taylor Lewan has started all nine games at the same spot. The Titans line is especially shaky in the interior, so this could be the breakout game many of us have waited for from defensive end Ryan Davis. The Jaguars should move him inside to rush on obvious passing downs.

Davis is second on the team in sacks with 2 1/2 behind cornerback Aaron Colvin's three, despite averaging around a dozen snaps a game. Davis recorded 6 1/2 sacks last season in limited work (305 snaps).

Tennessee has been called for 17 offensive holding calls to rank 22nd in the league and has allowed 29 sacks to rank 29th.

Even the running back situation has been fluid, making pass protection a question mark there.

The communication can't be ideal. On top of the lineup changes, the Titans will be playing their third game under interim coach Mike Mularkey and new play caller Jason Michael, the offensive coordinator.

The Jaguars should test how strong the Titans are at picking up the right man blitzing early and often. Colvin should be used off the edge immediately when he moves inside to nickel.

The line isn't the only weakness around Mariota that should be able to be exposed on the blitz.

The Titans are down their top two wide receivers in Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. Those two have combined to catch 50 passes for 607 yards and four touchdowns - numbers that don't equal one Allen Robinson or Allen Hurns. …

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