Tennessee Titans 30 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars 9
This always felt like a game that would be won and lost on the ground. Whichever team managed to have the most success in the run game was likely to be the victor. However, I expected that to be a case of consistent sustained success and not the explosive running that we saw. Especially given that the guy making the explosive runs was the guy many consider to be the Titans hammer back, Derrick Henry. Henry finished the day with an incredible four touchdowns and 238 rushing yards on just 17 carries. That is an average of 14 yards per carry and a touchdown every 4.25 carries, simply amazing.
It may not seem like it given that the Titans scored 30 points but this game was dominated by both defences. Let’s start with the Titans defence who kept the Jaguars to just nine points. Well that’s not true as they actually kept them to seven points, with the other two points being scored on a special teams safety when the Titans punt returner for some reason decided to run backwards after muffing a punt.
Cody Kessler completed just 25-of-43 attempts for 240 yards and a single touchdown. However, where the Titans were most impressive was against the Jaguars run game. They held them to just 60 yards rushing on 20 carries. Leonard Fournette managed just 36 yards on 14 of those carries. He was also stuffed at the goal line three times.
Even the Jaguars managed to have success. Marcus Mariota completed just 18-of-24 passes for 162 yards and threw an interception. Overall the Titans averaged 8.25 yards per carry. However, outside of the two long touchdowns they managed just 3.5 yards per carry. Dion Lewis really struggled with just 13 yards on 10 carries.
Jaguars tackling woes
In the end this game came down to tackling, or lack of it. The Jacksonville Jaguars were always going to struggle to have the same intensity they had last week but this was terrible. The biggest example was Derrick Henry’s 99 yard touchdown, where at least a couple of Jaguars defenders had a shot to tackle him and failed. In some cases all they had to do was push him out of bounds.
The issue for the Jaguars was that they got too aggressive. On both the 99 yard run and the 54 yard touchdown run they collapsed the defence into the middle of the line. They were expecting a run straight up the middle and all Henry had to do was bounce it outside and he was in space. At that point all he had to do was beat one of the corners and he was off. Now Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are good but one-on-one with Henry is a big mismatch for them.
The Jaguars got too aggressive on a lot of plays and then compounded those errors with bad tackling in pursuit of the free runner.
As feared this was not a pretty game. If it wasn’t for a couple of explosive Derrick Henry runs it is probably a 20-9 ball game. However, for the Titans the win is vital. They now move to 7-6 and a Baltimore ravens loss away from being tied for the 6th seed. With two very winnable games left against the Giants and Redskins they could easily be looking at a 9-7 finish. Given the Ravens schedule and the Colts playing in Houston this week that might be enough. However, they still need to win at least two out of their next three to really have a shot. 8-8 is unlikely to be enough, especially if the lose again to the Colts and lose the tie breaker against them.
This is a prime example of everything that has been wrong for the Jaguars this year. The offence has failed to get anything going and the defence has been caught sometimes being too aggressive. For the defence it is risk-reward stuff. When it works you can have games like last week. When it does not you can get gashed for 250 yards on the ground and give up four touchdowns to one player. I am not quite sure where the Jaguars go from here but offensive weapons are an absolute must in the upcoming offseason.
Image credit: AP via New York Post