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Fabulous Four: Jaguars-Seahawks

Posted Sep 19, 2013

Senior writer John Oehser examines four key issues as the Jaguars prepare to visit the Seattle Seahawks in 2013 NFL Week 2.

4. A lane here, and a lane there. We begin this pre-Week 3 West Coast Fabulous Four with one of several areas of concern for the Jaguars entering their matchup with the Seattle Seahawks Sunday – that is, the run defense. The Seahawks surprised many by power-running through the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, and the Jaguars allowed 226 yards rushing in a 19-9 loss in Oakland the same day. But Jaguars defenders this week said the issue this past Sunday wasn’t as much being overmatched by the Raiders running game as it was missed assignments. “We were pretty good on third down, but 226 yards (rushing) is unacceptable, and that really came from explosive runs,” linebacker Russell Allen said. “We’d stop the run, stop the run, then boom – they’d hit a 30-yarder. That is what we have to eliminate. One of the major things (Head Coach Gus) Bradley talks about is capturing explosives, both offensive and defensively. We did not do a good job on that Sunday.” Linebacker Geno Hayes, one of eight players either new or playing in a new position this season on the defense, said communication is an issue – not often, but often enough to allow for a big run here, or there. He said it’s that – and not a lack of ability to stop the run – that has caused the big plays. “That’s all it takes, is one guy,” Hayes said. “You have to be fundamentally sound from a defensive standpoint and know your assignments. If you don’t, it only takes one guy in this scheme. If you watch tape, you see it. When runs are fit up, there’s nowhere to go. Physically, we’re there.”

3. Early standout. The Jaguars unsurprisingly haven’t fared well statistically or analytically thus far this season. That’s what happens when you’re 0-2 and struggling offensively and defensively, but according to Pro Football Focus, the Jaguars did have a few solid performances against the Raiders. While the offensive line has struggled early in the season, and while left tackle Eugene Monroe and left guard Will Rackley had negative grades against the Raiders, center Brad Meester and right guard Uche Nwaneri received positive grades after grading negatively in the opener. Nwaneri is the highest-graded Jaguars offensive player through two games. Defensively, while safeties Dwight Lowery and Johnathan Cyprien had low grades, players such as defensive tackles Sen’Derrick Marks and Brandon Deaderick had positive grades, with Hayes the highest-graded defensive player for the game and the season. Hayes had eight tackles and six stops, with middle linebacker Paul Posluszny had seven tackles but was credited with three missed tackles. “It was one of those games where things started to come together,” Hayes said.

2.One-on-one at last. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday the team has pared down the game plan, particularly on offense. He also said the team has tried to use walkthroughs as a teaching session with the idea of allowing a young team new to the offense to be familiar enough with the plays to play fast on game day. “Some walkthroughs, you see seventy plays being run but we might pare it down to thirty and really go through all the newness of it – just to make sure that we can really execute some these things,” Bradley said, adding that the simplification isn’t as much about missed assignments as allowing players to play faster. “I just think that we can play faster if they’re a hundred percent sure. . . . We have an expansive offensive playbook and you like to be creative and challenge the defense but that fine line and making sure you don’t have too much, so it’s a process with that too.”

1. And finally, a word on the quarterback. Chad Henne will start a second consecutive game in place of Blaine Gabbert Sunday, with the laceration on Gabbert’s throwing hand still not healed enough for him to safely play Sunday. Henne against the Raiders last week threw for 241 yards and a touchdown, playing under similar pressure that harassed Gabbert the previous week against the Chiefs. The Chiefs sacked Gabbert seven times; the Raiders sacked Henne five times – and the reality is whoever plays quarterback needs more time. The line hasn’t allowed the quarterbacks time in the pocket, which has caused receivers to not have time to run longer routes, which has led to short passes and a bunched-up feel to the Jaguars’ offense.  The Jaguars have scored an NFL-low 11 points in two games, and the offensive struggles have led to speculation that rookie Denard Robinson could be tried at quarterback. Robinson played quarterback at Michigan, and has taken snaps in the Wildcat formation, but don’t look for the Jaguars to run a Robinson-led, Wildcat offense as their base package. This offense will be run by either Gabbert or Henne for the foreseeable future with the guess here that Gabbert returns to the lineup when healthy.

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