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This Week In Defense: Jaguars at Seahawks

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Narrative of the game:

Fans came into this game expecting to win, but convincing themselves the game would be close and that Jacksonville could threaten them somehow and someway (we're Seattleites, what can we say)? The conversation was more about Gus Bradley knowing the team and exploiting some match-ups because of that, and overall it seemed people were vocalizing fear to prevent that feeling that a trap game was coming or perhaps preparing for the exact type of game Seattle would have lost in the past.

[1st Qtr 7:59 1st and 10] (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short left to M.Jones-Drew

The Seahawks four-man front demonstrates its superiority on this play here as Brandon Mebane gets a great surge and the pocket collapses like a sand castle. Henne backpedals to try a dumpoff screen to Jones-Drew, but Drew drops it amid a swarm of Seahawks' linebackers reacting to the play. This type of game is where your talent should stand out individually and a play like this sets the tone for how uneventful the game would be for the defense in the first half.

[1st Qtr 3:56 1st and 10] M.Jones-Drew left tackle to JAX 15 for -2 yards (B.Mebane).

Jacksonville is running a lot of compressed line looks. This essentially means they are eliminating the spaces or squeezing the gaps between their offensive lineman in an attempt to control penetration and force rushes to come from the outside on passing downs. This play demonstrates why it was so troublesome for them to get going as Mebane goes old school Mebane and anticipates the snap and basically blows up a double team before it can even happen. He pretty much walks into the runner for the tackle with the least amount of effort I've ever seen required for a play like this.


[1st Qtr 3:21 2nd and 12] (3:18) C.Henne sacked at JAX 6 for -9 yards (C.McDonald).

Clinton McDonald is a guy who I liked as a backup coming into the year. He's a guy who flashes every now and again when I do these types of pieces, but at times last year, he usually followed a good play by getting blown up the next so it was hard to see him growing beyond his existing role as rotational 3rd down guy. On this sack here (the first of his career) he finally uses his superior leverage to bull rush the guard Will Rackley all the way back to Henne, who is trapped in a collapsing pocket.


[2nd Qtr 5:42 3rd and 7] (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short left to S.Burton.

A bad (albeit ultimately successful) play by Earl Thomas (it can't all be rainbows and unicorn farts). The play develops and Earl sees #15 running a drag over the middle. Earl flies down with his amazing speed before the ball is thrown, but had Henne led his guy one more step, it could have been a really good play for Jacksonville. Earl tends to have plays like this where he makes a decision and then takes a bad angle with his speed. Two years ago there would be five or six plays like this from Earl but each year he's eliminated this particular mistake from almost all of his game.


[2nd Qtr :52 2nd and 10] (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete deep right to C.Shorts.

After a near catch by Cecil Shorts, in which Sherman saw his amazing season threatened by the arm of Chad Henne, the following play, Henne gets a pass tipped at the line and then Bobby Wagner shows his athleticism by tipping the ball to himself and throwing himself at the ball as it comes down. I like Bobby's awareness the most here and I think we'll see more INTs of this kind from Wagner.



Overall view of the game:

A game like this is really boring to cover. When a team lacks any real ability to match up with you, vanilla defense and man to man means there is literally almost nothing scheme-wise to capture. Thus I only have 5 plays from the first half spotlighted as the game was decided at half with the score 24-0. Now, some folks I was reading after this game were concerned that the backups gave up so many big plays. Two things:

1) Backups do not practice during the week much. So it's always tougher coming off the bench than with a week to prepare.

2) Play calls were really vanilla in the second half. The Seahawks blitzed only 2 times in the first half and didn't run a single exotic look in coverage so it was all about backyard football with the players playing straight up with no real help.

Game Ball:

Clinton McDonald. His two sacks coming on back to back drives helped Seattle bury Jacksonville early. He had a really solid preseason but the emergence of Jordan Hill flashing so much in that 3rd down role, caused him to become expendable . He came in and retook his role and has covered the thin depth at DT. Congratulations on his two sacks and I hope he can keep his spot when Hill returns.

Needs improvement:

Anything I wrote seriously coming out of this game would be really pulling something out of thin air. There is something I was concerned about though - and that's was how much Jacksonville was able to run from the bunch look once Red Bryant was out. Red is back to being that immovable object against the run that was his 2010-2011 campaigns.