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Thursday update: To blitz or not to blitz?

Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Joe Schobert (47) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

JACKSONVILLE – Some decisions are good. Some are bad.

Sometimes, there's no good or bad choice – which is the situation facing the Jaguars' defense and coordinator Todd Wash this week against Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

To blitz or not to blitz? Good question.

No good answer.

"He's got success without pressure and with pressure," Wash said Thursday as the Jaguars (1-7) prepared to play the Packers (6-2) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday at 1 p.m.

"Obviously, he's one of the best of all time and playing at an extremely high level. The only difference is he isn't looking to run as much as he has in the past. He was always very mobile, and you had to worry about that. He can still do it. But he looks to stay in the pocket and extend plays within the pocket and take shots downfield."

Rodgers, a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player now in his 16th season, has thrown 24 touchdowns this season with two interceptions. That's staggeringly good – even for a player who hasn't thrown double-digit interceptions since 2010 and who averages 30 touchdown passes a season when healthy.

Rodgers has been somewhat less effective when blitzed this season, throwing seven touchdowns with both interceptions when pressured.

"You have to know how the game's going and you have to have a feel for it," middle linebacker Joe Schobert said. "If your pressures are getting home, any quarterback in the league is going to be thrown off his game. Obviously, he's great at recognizing defensive looks and recognizing pressures and coverages.

"You've got to do your best to be able to disguise that. He will hold the ball and try to scramble and extend plays because he can make all the throws and he wants to make all the throws. So, he'll hold the ball sometimes and give people opportunities to get sacks. You just have to be able to take advantage of it."

Wash said the Jaguars must "pick and choose" when to blitz Sunday.

"His rating does go down a little bit [against blitzes], but if you want to say it goes down a little bit it's still extremely high," Wash said with a laugh. "We want to make them work the whole field. We don't want to give up big plays over the top, really make them earn it all the way down the field.

"Down and distance has a lot to do with what you want to do. How quick do you want to get the ball out? I think each coordinator goes in with some coverage ideas and some blitz ideas. As the game goes along, you kind of get a feel for what you need to call."

The Jaguars this season have blitzed on 28.5 percent of snaps, 15th most in the NFL. They blitzed a season-high 17 times against the Houston Texans this past week, sacking quarterback DeShaun Watson twice and pressuring him at least five more times.

"It was different," Wash said. "We haven't pressured a lot. Obviously, they (the Packers) have a week to prepare for it, so obviously we have to do something different….

"It's going to be important that we continue to keep him (Rodgers) in the pocket and try to pressure him as much as we can and try to give him different looks. I don't think you're ever going to surprise him or confused him. You just have to be able to slow down his reads at times."


Jaguars running back James Robinson's carries have increased the last two weeks, a trend offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said could continue. "I've challenged the offensive line, trying to get those guys going and get their pads down to try to get some yards [rushing]," Gruden said Wednesday. "James has been playing very well. He's one of our better players. It's important to get him the ball and try to get him more touches." Robinson, after not rushing more than 17 times in any of the first six games, rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in a 29-29 Week 7 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown on a season-high 25 carries in this past Sunday's loss to Houston. "Fortunately, he has stayed healthy and done some good things," Gruden said of Robinson, who has 580 yards and five touchdowns on 132 carries this season. "Sometimes, it may look like we're predictable or what have you, but I think it's important for him to get his touches. It takes the pressure off the quarterback and he (Robinson) has been very good."

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