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How the Ravens defense worked to isolate Jamarco Jones

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NFL: SEP 29 Seahawks at Cardinals Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Early in Week 5, Seattle Seahawks starting right guard D.J. Fluker was lost to a hamstring injury, and second year Jamarco Jones took over at the position. He played well enough in the victory over the Los Angeles Rams to earn a starting nod against the Cleveland Browns in Week 6, where he again filled the starting role well. His play was not perfect in either game, but for a first year starter seeing the first offensive snaps of his career, it was far above what could be expected.

However, in Week 7, the Baltimore Ravens seemed to identify that Jones was the least experienced starter on the line, and looked to take advantage of that. Over the first two drives of the game, the Baltimore defensive fronts resulted in matchups where Jones was part of a double team block on nine of fourteen (64.2%) snaps, leaving Jones with just five one-on-one matchups. Here are those fourteen alignments in order.

Snap 1

Snap 2

Snap 3

Snap 4

Snap 5

Snap 6

Snap 7

Snap 8

Snap 9

Snap 10

Snap 11

Snap 12

Snap 13

Snap 14

At the conclusion of that second drive, the score was 7-3 in favor of Seattle, and, as noted, Jones had seen a one-on-one matchup on just five snaps (35.7%). However, on the Hawks third drive of the game the Ravens began to mix things up on their defensive front, and this led to Jones seeing one-on-one matchups on five of the nine (55.5%) offensive snaps on the drive. Following a field goal on that third drive, the Hawks led 10-3 and Jones had been one-on-one with a defender on less than half of the offensive snaps for the Seahawks.

From that point forward, however, he would be matched up one-on-one for nearly 70% of the offensive plays the Seahawks would run, and the team would only score six additional points the rest of the day. Now, before anyone jumps all over me in the comments, I’m not saying Jones was the sole reason that the team only scored six points over its final seven drives, as Russell Wilson’s pick-6 and Jason Myers’ missed field goal obviously contributed. However, it does certainly appear that a piece of the Ravens gameplan was to isolate the least experienced of the Seattle offensive linemen in order to attempt to disrupt the offensive flow of the Hawks

That said, once they had Jones isolated, Baltimore then worked to exploit the size and athleticism mismatches presented. To demonstrate how his athletic limitations show up on tape, I’ve put together two cutups that show how his athleticism affects his on field performance. This in no way implies these are all bad plays for him, as on many of them the play happens away from him and his performance is irrelevant. These are simply here to show how his testing results at the combine show through on his film.

The first demonstrates how his lack of size and strength appear on film. That shows up with defenders powering through him, throwing him to the ground, disengaging his blocks or simply pushing him backwards into the pocket in order to open a lane for a blitzing linebacker.

The second series shows Jones losing one-on-one matchups due to his agility and speed limitations, as defenders simply go around him with either speed or quickness.

Obviously not everything Jones shows on tape is negative. His strengths are great. While most offensive linemen enter the NFL with high levels of athleticism and then must learn technique and come to understand angles, Jones has fantastic technique and often does a phenomenal job of showing the awareness to seal a defender away by simply turning.

That is exactly what this next clip shows. Jones seals away a defender using his situational awareness and understanding of angles. Rather than fight a losing battle against a defender who may be bigger, stronger or quicker, on all three of these clips Jones simply turns to seal the defender off, or to steer him away from where he could cause damage.

Now, the first video in this article showed how Jones can sometimes struggle to properly engage a defender when he is not quick enough or fast enough to engage. However, when he does engage and is able to lock on, the outcome is far more likely to be in Jones’ favor. Larger, more powerful defensive tackles have shown that they can use their strength to disengage from Jones, however, if he is able to add some weight, he should be able to reduce the ability of defenders to do that.

And, if he’s able to add some weight, it could make him a rather formidable opponent for larger defensive tackles, because when Jones is able to engage defenders who weigh less than he does, it’s often game over.

In addition, it seems likely that adding some weight could help Jones develop a little more push in the run game. Jones hasn’t shown a consistent ability to generate push in the run game, but there appears to be some sneaky pop hiding somewhere. It seems as though roughly once a game he has a fantastic rep on a running play where he simply blasts a defensive lineman. He did that against the Los Angeles Rams when he put Sebastian Joseph-Day on the ground.

And he did it again against the Ravens when he appears to catch 340 pound Brandon Williams leaning and just enough off guard to put him on the ground.

So, while his limitations have shown up on tape at times, Jones has shown he can play on the interior of the line. At his current weight he’d likely be far better suited for a zone blocking scheme, but by adding some weight he’d likely be better able to control defenders and generate push in the run game.

He’s shown he’s got the technique and awareness to play the position, and now a little extra muscle and strength will allow him to better anchor in the passing game and also generate more push in the run game. That said, at this point he’s still susceptible to being beaten in space by quicker rushers, and can be pushed around because of his weight. The Ravens recognized these facts and attacked him accordingly, so it will be interesting to see if future opponents do the same.