Thursday night's matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans was yet another game that was rather slow and didn't produce much offense. However, it still featured some interesting things for me to note as well as plenty of things to talk about in this analysis.
So as I noted, the game was rather slow offensively and that was simply due to the fact that the Jaguars and the Titans came prepared with very solid game plans defensively. The Jaguars came prepared to slow down Derrick Henry by often stacking the box to slow down the Titans run game and would toss out lots of nickel sets in order suffocate their pass game.
On the other hand, the Titans would stack the box often as well, mainly when the Jaguars would line up in single back or I formation. The Titans also utilized nickel formations as well as dime formations in order to slow down the Jaguars passing attack.
The Titans suffered a huge blow early in the game that was detrimental to their momentum going forward. On what would have started their first drive of the game, Adoree Jackson muffed the punt, which gave the Jaguars the ball on their side of the field. This killed the solid defensive effort that the Titans had just put together. The honest truth is… this whole game was very sloppy, especially on the Titans end. So, I feel that it’s only right that I elaborate on all the things that went wrong with Tennessee on Thursday night. Let’s start by talking about the most prominent problem on this Titans offense, and no, it wasn’t Marcus Mariota (although it seems close). The Titans O-line played absolutely horrendous. They were missing assignments left and right (such as below when they allow the screen to be completely blown up) and just getting beat outright on plenty of snaps by the Jags D-line.
The amount of sacks they gave up is downright sad… 9 sacks!!! In this specific instance I will highlight how the Jaguars beat the Titans with just 4 rushers on this crucial 4th down snap. This was just one of the many times that the Titans got beat painfully straight off the line of scrimmage.
Let me make it clear right away, Marcus Mariota was far from impressive. He frankly took far too long to make decisions and was frequently inaccurate throughout the game, especially in times that his O-line rarely gave him a multitude of seconds to throw the ball.
Let's start with a look at this example early in the game where Mariota throws the ball into double coverage on 3rd down. This is just a risky throw and one you can't expect to make successfully, especially to a receiver of smaller stature like Adam Humphries.
Another almost-interception moment for Mariota occurred later in the game when he tried finding Delanie Walker in the end zone, who he underthrew with a floater, which resulted in the almost-interception by Ronnie Harrison.
Near interceptions not enough to convince you he was struggling with ball placement? That’s fine, I have more examples of downright bad throws from Thursday. Check out this overthrow he makes on this simple shallow cross over the middle. There really isn’t anything good you can take away from this play.
He seems to really struggle with the overthrowing, as he makes the same mistake here to a wide open and breaking inside Tajae Sharpe. Simply, a game breaking throw you have to make in the NFL if you want to win.
Finally as far as his mistakes go, let's talk about this specific instance where he took far too long to make a decision in the pocket. He completely misses his checkdown option as well as his tight end who is decently open near the 37-yard line. Wouldn’t you know it; he fumbled on the same play, as well.
As I say I am equal opportunity, I will talk about what good I saw from Mariota as well. Albeit there wasn’t very much from him, I have to talk about this dime he threw to Tajae Sharpe over the inside shoulder of Jalen Ramsey. This throw was absolutely gorgeous and definitely his best moment in this otherwise rough game.
Let me say, there were a few other Titans that were not apart of the O-line or QB position that made mistakes last night. Take a look at this dropped screen by Derrick Henry which could have easily resulted in an explosive play or maybe even a touchdown.
Mistakes like these were killing the Titans morale and were showing obvious signs of that late in the game. The last incredibly notable error I have to point out before I stop going in on the Titans performance was the often predictable and uninspired play calling, which no one on the roster can help except for the offensive coordinator and the head coach. When you’re not putting your players in a position to succeed, it's obvious why the results yielded the way that they did. I want to specifically note this example from late in the game when the Titans essentially attempted to throw the ball to the exact same spot of the field two times in a row in a long distance down situation.
I mean, seriously, what is up with the lack of creativity on these calls? Let it be known that there wasn’t much deception as to where the ball was going on either down, as Mariota tended to over-stare down his target before he threw the ball all game long.
Jaguars/Gardner Minshew Analysis
If you watched the game you know that the Jaguars didn’t play great by any means. Though, it was certainly a solid performance and one that may turn the tide on the direction of their season. Very obviously, Garder Minshew is the highlight of the Jaguars season thus far. He emerged out of nowhere to some as he was the Jaguars 6th round pick out of Washington State University in this year’s draft. He looks much more seasoned than a 6th round quarterback when he plays however, as he makes decisive reads and has great ball placement especially on over the shoulder throws. I will use this as an opportunity to highlight one of the best throws that Minshew made on Thursday. Here, he throws an absolute strike over the shoulder to DJ Chark near the inside corner of the endzone.
The ball placement on this throw was truly a thing of beauty and the crazy part…? He did basically the same thing again on another throw to Dede Westbrook on a 3rd down later in the game, which was unfortunately dropped even though he was open and in stride.
An obvious takeaway from the Jaguars side is that the D-line looked terrifying, especially Calais Campbell. Josh Allen looked good too, adding a forced fumble to his rookie resume. Something that I suspected that could happen coming into the season definitely has happened thus far, and that is the fast development of the Jaguars young receiving core. Specifically, I am talking about DJ Chark and Chris Conley. Dede Westbrook looks solid as well, but he dropped a decent amount of balls on Thursday night, so we will have to see if he can clean that up going forward. Leonard Fournette wasn't great, but he did breakaway for a huge gain right towards the end of the 4th quarter that undo