Perhaps the most potent offense in the National Football League, the Kansas City Chiefs will present several issues for the Jacksonville Jaguars this week.
Entering week five in 2018, the Jaguars defense still looked to be as exceptional. Going into the week with only one starter — nickel corner D.J. Hayden — out, the Jaguars seemed prime to take on one of the league’s most electrifying offenses.
Against the Chiefs, the Jaguars defense did everything but look exceptional. They struggled to match up against the Chiefs’ speed and were lost on several occasions. The Chiefs changed the way the Jaguars were used to defending and exploited their pass defense perfectly.
Now in 2019, the Jaguars will face off, once again, against the Kansas City Chiefs. However, if they have not learned from their mistakes, and how the Chiefs offense dictates a defense, they may not fare better than they did just a season ago.
How will the Jaguars figuratively — and literally — tackle the combination of quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill? To answer that, we must first take a look at what makes the Chiefs offense so great.
No. 1: Misdirection:
Starting out with the first play of the game by the Chiefs offense. The Chiefs start out with, (now Jaguars wide receiver) Chris Conley and Kelce in the backfield. Sending Conley in motion forces the Jaguars defense to shift slightly to the right allowing free reign on the left side of the defense. After the snap, Hill races into the backfield on an end-around right into the open field provided by a simple misdirection and pump fake.
The Jaguars defense is nowhere to be found, leaving (former Jaguars safety) Barry Church all alone to take on Hill. With a lead blocker in front of him, Hill was off to the races. Luckily for the Jaguars, the play was called back due to a hold.
Bonus: Marcell Dareus shows off his effort by chasing down Hill, ultimately making the tackle.
To start the play, Kelce runs a misdirect-motion in which he moves closer to the line-of-scrimmage in the direction of the play fake set up by Mahomes and Kareem Hunt. Conley hunkers down as if he is going to block for the run then fades out slightly getting wide open against a very confused Jaguars defense.
This play works on the Jaguars defense perfectly. Motioning Watkins to the right, and then back left exposed man-to-man coverage, and shifts the defense to the right (left from offensive perspective). With no time to re-adjust the Jaguars are caught in a mismatch at the top of the screen and Watkins gains a hard-fought first down.
The Chiefs ran a total of 68 plays against the Jaguars, with 33 of those plays involving motion of some sort. 21 of those motion-involved plays came in the first half.
If the Jaguars need to focus on one aspect of the Chiefs’ offense this week it will be misdirection along with their own ability to remain disciplined and stay in their gaps.
No.2: Mahomes’ scramble ability
Mahomes is an underrated scrambler. Although he doesn’t do it often (60 rushes for 272 yard during 2018 regular season), it should not be discounted.
Twice during this game, the Jaguars allowed him to get into the open field. The first play goes for an easy score, and the second play — thanks to a Malik Jackson fall — nearly allows Mahomes to get into the endzone for a second time.
Again, a lack of discipline and respecting Mahomes’ scrambling ability burns the Jaguars quick defense. With no Telvin Smith on the team anymore, who knows if anyone even gets close to stopping him on the first play.
The Jaguars must stay disciplined in their assignments and potentially put a spy on Mahomes to thwart the threat of him running.
No. 3: Smash concept variation
A heavier version of a smash concept — outside hook/slot corner in a two defensive back look –, Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey is lined up outside isolated against Hill. Conley is lined up close to the line of scrimmage in the slot with Watkins in the slot closer to the boundary.
Hill runs a deep post route as a decoy, which forces Ramsey to trail him even though Gipson is there for help over the top. Former Jaguars nickel corner Tyler Patmon is stuck deciding between covering Watkins or the underneath drag route ran by Conley.
His responsibility is more to Conley, so he crashes down leaving Watkins all alone at the Jaguars 25 yard line. The play resulted in a 33-yard gain.
This was a deadly play for the Jaguars defense, and if they are going to isolate Ramsey on Hill again, it will be one to watch on Sunday. Ramsey should have crashed down to Watkins once he saw Hill pushing his route inside which would have stopped the play from ever happening.
No. 4: Speed
Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash told reporters last week that Ramsey will “match-up” with Hill. This means speed on speed, but it may not always work. As evidenced here, Ramsey was beaten deep by Hill on a simple go-route. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do, and without any contact at the line of scrimmage, giving Hill a free run resulted in a big game down the left sideline.
Of course, Hill is not the only one with speed on the team. The Chiefs drafted receiver Mecole Hardman in the second round this year, and he has similar wheels.
If Ramsey is going to follow/shadow Hill during their matchup this week, he will need to get his hands on the speedy receiver. Similarly to how he did in the above clip.
No. 5: Kelce
Kelce deserves his own section. Against the Jaguars last year he dominated posting a five-reception, 100-yard game against some of the best defenders in football.
On both of these plays, Kelce is lined up in the slot man-to-man against a Jaguars defender. Both times he makes them look silly in their efforts. Against Smith, Kelce gives him a bit of a head fake outside, goes back inside and gets wide-open as a result.
In the second play, Church is on a bit of an island against Kelce running after hauling in the football. Church was no match for Kelce’s agility and he embarrasses him in the process.
The Jaguars are going to have to find an answer for Kelce. Either by bracketing him with safety Ronnie Harrison and linebacker Myles Jack or by doubling him, to begin with. Either way, he is the man to watch this week, not Hill.
No. 6: Where the Jaguars succeeded
The Jaguars defense was not completely inept against the Chiefs a year ago, in fact, they held the Chiefs to their lowest point total of the season — 23 (Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles threw a pick-six during the game).
The Jaguars were also successful at defending the run, holding then-Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt to a mere 87 yards (four yards-per-carry).
The Jaguars put in a lot of work during last year, and during the offseason reshaping the core of their defense releasing safeties Gipson and Church, trading defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., and replacing now-retired linebacker Smith.
With the additions of defensive end/outside linebacker Josh Allen, and linebacker Quincy Williams, along with the emergence of second-year safety Ronnie Harrison will it be enough to combat the Chiefs potent offense?
The Jaguars will find out quickly on Sunday.
Sports Illustrated’s Zach Goodall contributed to this report.
FILM ROOM: The Jaguars’ very confusing, up-and-down day part two
Make sure you check out part one of this series to see the deficiencies in the Jaguars game against the Carolina Panthers. In part two, we take a look at what went right, and how the Jaguars rebounded.
While the Jaguars struggled a lot during their game on Sunday, there are plenty of reasons to remain positive. Offensive, and defensively the Jaguars did well enough at times to win the game. In the end, it was too little, too late.
Defensively, Jaguars’ defensive tackle Calais Campbell said it best: “It is on us, especially on the defensive side of the ball, to elevate our game. We haven’t played up our capabilities yet this year, not consistently.”
The Jaguars have lacked consistency all season, and Sunday was no different. In such an up-and-down day, the Jaguars could not overcome their deficiencies as they did just a week before against the Denver Broncos.
Ultimately, overcoming a 14 point deficit is a great feat, but more often than not, you’re going to lose.
In the first half of the game, the Jaguars offensive line struggled, and their run game never got going. In the second half, however, the Jaguars were able to pull it together and perform very well — well enough to win — on Sunday.
There are more plays to illustrate this, but for the sake of brevity, let’s take a look at three key plays that made an impact.
Situation: 1st and 10 (fourth quarter, 11:53 remaining)
Thoughts: There was much criticism of Andrew Norwell‘s game, and while it is very valid throughout much of the first half, during the second half, he had minimal struggles. On this 44-yard run by Jaguars’ running back Leonard Fournette, Norwell does a nice job at executing a double-team on Panthers’ defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and moving to the second level getting in the way of the linebacker Luke Kuechly.
The Jaguars struggled to run the football at all in the first half with Fournette rushing 13 times for only 36 yards in the first half.
Situation: 1st and 10 (third quarter, 10:54 remaining)
Thoughts: Jaguars’ quarterback Gardner Minshew had a few incredible throws on Sunday. None better than this play to receiver DJ Chark Jr., who is on his way to becoming a Pro Bowl player. Minshew does a great job of looking off the safety using his eyes and coming back to Chark for the back-shoulder throw.
If there is any reason to remain optimistic about the Jaguars’ offense, it is because of Minshew. The rookie quarterback had a phenomenal day even with three turnovers.
The Jaguars offensive line does a fantastic job here of creating a clean pocket for Minshew. During the second half of the game, the offensive line play was night and day in terms of positive and negative plays.
Situation: 2nd and 16 (third quarter, 11:32 remaining)
Thoughts: Just a play before the impressive catch by Chark Jr., the Jaguars offensive line does a fantastic job yet again creating a pocket for Minshew to step into and make a throw. Cam Robinson, in particular, works his man perfectly sending him out wide, unable to make a play on the quarterback.
Norwell stones his man completely, and no one is able to touch Minshew.
The Jaguars’ defense didn’t necessarily rebound completely from the mistakes they made, however throughout the game they made key plays allowing for the Jaguars’ offense to get back to work.
Situation: 1st and 10 (third quarter, 10:27 remaining)
Thoughts: There is a reason why the Jaguars are staying Sunday’s mistakes are absolutely correctable. This play worked against the defense on Sunday, but when they played within themselves and stayed in their gaps, it went for a minimal gain. The Jaguars will need to work on their issues on defense throughout the week, but this play gives a reason for optimism.
Situation: 1st and 10 (first quarter, 5:01 remaining)
Situation: 3rd and 9 (second quarter, 00:49 remaining)
Thoughts: These are the types of plays that elicit optimism for the Jaguars’ defense. Having players such as Yannick Ngakoue making key stops in key situations is reminiscent of the Jaguars’ 2017 defense.
Thoughts: For as much flack as second-year cornerback Tre Herndon received last week against the Denver Broncos, he played very well against the Carolina Panthers. In this place he tracks the receiver perfectly, basically running the route for him to force an incompletion.
While the Jaguars will absolutely miss Jalen Ramsey at times this season — if he does not return to play –, there should be some hope with Herndon as his replacement.
Situation: 1st and 10 (second quarter, 4:22 remaining)
Thoughts: Ngakoue is still a force to be reckoned with, and while this sack/fumble play is made while he is unblocked, it is the same type of plays he has made the past three seasons. The one issue the Jaguars’ defense has had is actually landing on the football and creating turnovers.
Thus far this season, the Jaguars have only one turnover on defense — Ronnie Harrison‘s interception against the Broncos. If the Jaguars want to remain competitive on defense, this area will need to be cleaned up. Actually getting after the quarterback and forcing a fumble is a great start.
Situation: 4th and 1 (fourth quarter, 11:59 remaining)
Thoughts: This was the most impressive play of the game for the Jaguars’ defense. Getting a stop on fourth-and-one with the game on the line, it is the quality of play one should expect from a playoff-caliber defense.
If the Jaguars played this technically sound the entire game, the Jaguars easily win the game regardless of the offensive turnovers. The Jaguars will play the New Orleans Saints this coming Sunday where they will face yet another offensive powerhouse player in Saints’ running back Alvin Kamara.
The issues they have are all mostly fixable, but it remains to be seen if their preparation throughout the week will suffice.
FILM ROOM: The Jaguars’ very confusing, up-and-down day part one
The Jaguars had issues on defense throughout the game, and offensively during the first half made key mistakes along the offensive line and at quarterback which ultimately decided their fate.
The Jaguars’ deficiencies against the Panthers went unnoticed by no one. Defensively, while they recovered at times, allowing 285 yards on the ground to the Carolina Panthers was rather difficult to overcome.
Offensively, the Jaguars struggled to get off to a fast start along their offensive line and due to costly turnovers by their rookie quarterback, but both position groups recovered during the second half.
The Jaguars played well enough to win on Sunday, they simply couldn’t get out of their own way.
The Jaguars offensive line struggled mightily in the first half. This includes a botched play by Andrew Norwell which ultimately caused a fumble-six the other way by the Carolina Panthers. However, during the second half of the game, the Jaguars seemed to hunker down and recover from earlier issues, allowing the running game to succeed, as well as giving rookie quarterback Garder Minshew more time to see the field.
Situation: 3rd and 6 (second quarter, 13:43 remaining)
Thoughts: There really isn’t much to say. The Jaguars and Norwell likely want to never see this play again. Panthers’ defensive end Mario Addison had this to say about his efforts in causing the forced fumble:
“I knew (Andrew) Norwell liked to be aggressive,” Addison told reporters after the game on Sunday. “But this time he was passive, so I stabbed him and grabbed his hands and ran back to the quarterback as hard as I could before he could recover. Then, when I pushed him real hard into the quarterback, the quarterback lost the ball, Burns picked it up and took it in for the touchdown.”
Norwell is typically never this passive. While he has some deficiencies in his game, he at the very least won’t immediately get pushed back into the lap of his quarterback.
Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone said during his Monday press conference that when an offensive lineman has a few very bad plays, they will get noticed more often than their good plays. This is especially true when reviewing the Jaguars’ offensive line play.
“I think that when you have a bad play, it was a really bad play, and I’m sure Andrew would want it back, like we all would,” Marrone said. “And there’s other players, too, other linemen, other players on that field that would like to have those plays back.” This is a play he absolutely will want back.
Situation: 1st and 5 (first quarter, 6:13 remaining)
Thoughts: On this play, the Jaguars have Norwell pull from his left guard position as the lead blocker for Leonard Fournette on the right side of the formation. It’s important to point out because while Norwell does a fantastic job pulling, as soon as he comes close to a Panthers’ defender, he freezes, misses the block and prevents Leonard Fournette from running free.
Depending on how safety plays it, he may even score. Yet another play Norwell would likely want to have back.
Situation: 3rd and 4 (first quarter, 5:26 remaining)
Thoughts: On the above play, both Norwell and Cam Robinson get beat causing Minshew to get flustered and forced to throw the ball away. It is difficult to pin this on one player as it is possible Robinson was supposed to supply a bit more help inside than he did, however, the miscommunication issues have been persistent along the Jaguars’ offensive line.
Situation: 1st and 10 (second quarter, 2:00 remaining)
Thoughts: On this play, Robinson appears to lose his balance, and as a result he back peddles, getting beat inside in the process. He does, however, recover fairly quickly and very well afterward, but the damage was already done due to right guard A.J. Cann getting beat inside as well.
Robinson will have to continue working on his technical issues throughout the season. The second-year tackle missed nearly all of 2018 with a torn ACL and has only played in two full games thus far this season. In his return to the gridiron against the Tennessee Titans, Robinson only played half the snaps while splitting time with swing-tackle Cedric Ogbuehi.
Situation: 3rd and 4 (first quarter, 5:26 remaining)
Thoughts: The last offensive line play is Norwell once again being beat inside. Again, this could be a miscommunication with Robinson, however, it only goes to illustrate the issues along the line right now, at least early during games.
Situation: 2nd and 10 (fourth quarter, 2:33 remaining)
Thoughts: This an absolute “rookie play” for Gardner Minshew here. The Jaguars’ rookie quarterback has rarely been frazzled, however on this play he simply could not get out of his own head. Minshew runs around and ultimately is strip-sacked during a crucial moment in the game. The offensive line play here was just fine.
Similarly to the offense, the Jaguars struggled mightily on defense, however unlike the offense, their recovery was far more spotty. Allowing 285 yards on the ground, the Jaguars’ defensive struggles were persistent and frustrating to watch.
Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone spoke about the Jaguars’ defensive struggles on Monday during his weekly press conference. When asked about Marcell Dareus‘ suggestion that the Jaguars were simply out-schemed at times on Sunday, Marrone did not overtly disagree, his major point of emphasis was everyone from the players to the coaches needing to do a much better job.
“So, every gap should be secured, and every gap should be filled, and gaps should be played,” Marrone said. “And if that’s not happening, I take it upon myself to make sure that I put a big emphasis on it on practice. I can do a better job of that. The assistant coaches that are coaching those positions, ‘Get those players what they’re supposed to do and how they should do it,’ and then the players doing it.”
Situation: 1st and 10 (third quarter, 14:01 remaining)
Thoughts: The worst defensive play of the game truthfully doesn’t need very much explanation. The Jaguars — specifically at linebacker — were not in position. At the start of the play the Panthers’ tight end Greg Olsen, pulls to the right of the offensive formation to perform a seal block which — in the end — was more of a diversion.
Jaguars’ linebacker Myles Jack bites on the play to carry his man — the tight end–, making his gap responsibility nowhere near Christian McCaffrey. While Quincy Williams is pulled to the right of the defensive formation, but more importantly defensive tackle Calais Campbell stays backside anticipating the reverse and as a result is taken completely out of his gap.
Situation: 1st and 15 (first quarter, 1:42 remaining)
Thoughts: On this play, Jack is stuck in no man’s land covering McCaffrey who lines up in the slot. Without any help at all inside, he’s easily beat for a touchdown. This play simply should not have occurred, the Jaguars should not put a player in a position of weakness to cover one of the best offensive players in space one-on-one.
Situation: 2nd and 4 (third quarter, 0:41 remaining)
Thoughts: This play is similar to the last, only the Panthers motion their wide receiver prior to the play in an attempt to draw the defense away from the play. The play is doomed for the defense from the get-go. Williams is out of position and needs to play tighter to cover his gap inside.
Jack does a nice job at filling his gap, however, because Williams is so late, he gets washed out by the guard and the rest is history.
Situation: 1st and 10 (fourth quarter, 3:46 remaining)
Thoughts: This is the exact same play the Jaguars got burned on earlier in the game when McCaffrey scored on an 84-yard run. Similar to the first play, the Jaguars are out of position, but in a different way.
Instead of allowing the ball-carrier to pull inside, the Jaguars play the inside well, however, Jack remains out of position. Campbell is sucked too far inside but is barely able to stay in his gap, and safety Ronnie Harrison is unable to make the stop while being in the position to make a play, allowing for yet another long touchdown.
The Panthers called several plays multiple times during the game on Sunday, but the Jaguars did not have an answer.
Check out part two where we illustrate the positive plays made by the Jaguars, completing their bizarre up-and-down day.
FILM ROOM: Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is building a résumé
Drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is growing into the number one receiver the team envisioned.
After recording only 14 receptions for 174 yards during his rookie year, Jaguars receiver DJ Chark is slowly turning into a legitimate go-to receiver for the Jaguars. Only two games into the 2019 season, Chark has already accumulated 11 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns.
Hard work and dedication to his craft during the offseason is beginning to pay off. The young receiver believes his confidence level is growing. “A lot,” Chark told Locked On Jaguars when asked about how much his confidence level has grown. “Just from knowing where to be, when to be there. Knowing the offense. Knowing the routine. All that helped me out a lot.”
Every offseason, while players work on everything, they typically hone in on one specific area. For Chark? “My routes. That’s the biggest thing,” Chark said. “Getting in-and-out of breaks, understanding my playbook, and just tweaking small things in my game.”
While the second-year wide receiver is confident heading into week three, he knows there’s a lot he needs to do to get better. “I think I’ve been doing well, but I haven’t had a perfect game,” Chark said when asked if he was satisfied with his game. “A lot to work on, a lot to get better at. Also we 0-2. A lot we need to work on, so not satisfied, no.”
Typically, it takes about a year for a receiver to truly get into a rhythm as far as the speed of the game, knowing where to be, how to be there, and all of the little things that a receiver needs to understand. Chark has seemingly met at least some of those goals, and while he still has a lot to work on, the first two weeks into the 2019 season has been a fantastic start.
Last week against the Houston Texans, Chark accounted for seven receptions (nine targets) for 55 yards and a touchdown. The two incompletions came on an overthrown ball from rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, and a fantastic pass breakup made by Texans’ cornerback Lonnie Johnson.
Chark has built a close bond with the Minshew. Something he says is due to the “southern swagger.” Minshew was born and raised in Mississippi while Chark was born and raised in Louisianna. “We from the south,” Chark said when asked about the chemistry the two have together. “It just works that way.”
The two will hope to continue growing together as a dynamic duo over the course of the season.
Shortly after the Jaguars loss to the Houston Texans last Sunday, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone was very complimentary of the second-year receiver out of Louisiana State University stating, “I think it’s consistency…He’s a guy that can go in there and make plays and someone that is going to keep getting better and better.”
The team hopes Chark continues to show promise as the season progresses. Having ready-made chemistry with Minshew certainly helps.
Onto the film room:
Thoughts: Probably the best aspect of Chark’s game is his ability to travel from one side of the field to the other effortlessly, and with speed. Chark ran a 4.34 40-yard dash during the combine in 2018, and it shows on the crossing route ran against the Texans last week.
During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo complimented the receiver on how much work he is putting in running all over the field.
What might seem simple at first glance, Chark does a fantastic job at maintaining inside leverage with the corner while creating separation with his speed. The reception itself illustrates a consistency with his hands — something receiver had not been able to find throughout his football career.
Thoughts: Chark made good on his “southern swagger” connection on Sunday. The Louisiana native breaks on his crossing route and follows Minshew throughout to give the rookie quarterback a clear, and clean opening for a would-be game-tying touchdown. The growth and maturity in his game is obvious.
DeFilippo agrees with Chark’s opinion that his confidence is certainly growing. “He’s running across on the touchdown pass and he points up to the sky like they put it up for me,” DeFilippo said when speaking about Chark on Tuesday.
Once again, Chark uses his hands to haul in a perfectly placed football thrown by his rookie quarterback. With his confidence level rising, as DeFilippo points out, the skies the limit.
Thoughts: Against soft coverage, Chark does a fantastic job at selling the nine-route while transitioning to a stop-route just after the first-down marker. In years past Chark likely either runs the wrong route or is too hesitant at the line to sell a deep route. Now, with a full understanding of the playbook and his position, he can just run freely.
Thoughts: On his most impressive play of the game, Chark shows off his insane body control and hands catching. This is a complete 180 from his play last season when Chark was inconsistent in both areas.
The ball from Minshew comes is a beauty. Perhaps slightly earlier than he’d necessarily like, but the moment Chark turns around to look for the ball and makes a perfect adjustment in the air to make the grab on first-and-ten.
The play Minshew missed on. Depending on the move Chark would have put on Texans’ safety Tashuan Gipson this goes for six.
Chark will hope to continue the path to becoming the Jaguars number one receiver on Thursday when the team plays host to their division rival Tennessee Titans. Chark knows how important this game is coming off of a short week against a division opponent.
“It’s pretty big,” Chark said. “But I’m excited. Quick turnaround from Sunday. It’s football — going out there with my offense. Can’t wait.”
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