Scouting the Opponent is a weekly preview series looking ahead to the Titans upcoming matchup.
After a humbling day at the office last weekend, the Tennessee Titans (8-4) will travel to Florida for Sunday’s divisional matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-11), looking to extend their opponent’s 11-game losing streak.
If the Titans can return home victorious, they will secure their fifth consecutive winning season and lock in a winning division record as well.
The statistical comparison appears at first glance to be extremely lopsided in Tennessee’s favor. Just scan through the below (the bolded side is the better ranking)…
|25th||Total Yards Allowed/G||32nd|
|28th||Pass Yards Allowed/G||29th|
|16th||Rush Yards Allowed/G||30th|
|3rd (+9)||Turnover Differential||T-28th (-7)|
|11th (+33)||Point Differential||30th (-101)|
|15th (42.6%)||3rd D Conversions||16th (41.6%)|
|32nd (53.6%)||3rd D Defense||21st (42.6%)|
|20th (51.5 YPG)||Penalty Yardage||30th (62.9 YPG)|
|29th||Special Teams DVOA||16th|
|3rd||Rush DVOA – Offense||8th|
|3rd||Pass DVOA – Offense||25th|
|15th||Rush DVOA – Defense||23rd|
|30th||Pass DVOA – Defense||31st|
*DVOA is a Football Outsiders metric that stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. DVOA accounts for a team’s opponents. Weighted DVOA is adjusted so that earlier games in the season become gradually less important.
The Titans nearly have a clean sweep on the stat sheet over the Jaguars, checking in behind Jacksonville in only two categories: third-down defense, which we know is the league’s worst, and Special Teams DVOA.
On paper, this should be a dominating win for Tennessee. But we don’t play football games on paper. While these stats may paint Jacksonville as one of the worst teams in the NFL, they don’t properly measure the Mike Glennon-led squad, as the numbers are bogged down by Gardner Minshew’s and especially Jake Luton’s performances earlier in the season.
Key Matchups and Personnel
Back in Week 2, I wrote at length about Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, veteran offensive coordinator (in his first year with the team) Jay Gruden, and defensive coordinator Todd Wash. Check that out here for a refresher.
Some key matchups that could shape the outcome of this game include:
- LB David Long / LB Will Compton / LB Rashaan Evans vs RB James Robinson
The Jaguars offense runs through undrafted free agent James Robinson, who has piled up the third-most rushing yards of any back this season. Robinson helps keep the offense on schedule and allows Glennon to work off play-action as linebackers have to account for the run threat.
Those linebackers this week will be Rashaan Evans, David Long and Will Compton, who routinely bit on play action last week against the Browns. The Titans will have to be more disciplined this week while still remaining quick to trigger downhill to contain the explosive rookie back.
- LT David Quessenberry vs OLB K’Lavon Chaisson
The Jaguars selected Chaisson with their second of two first round picks last April. With DE Josh Allen on Injured Reserve, the spotlight has been on Chaisson recently, who has struggled overall this season but had his best game yet last week against Minnesota.
Chaisson moves around the formation a bit, but he’ll see plenty of David Quessenberry, the Titans third-string left tackle playing for the injured Ty Sambrailo and the also injured Taylor Lewan.
Myles Garrett got the best of Big Q a few times last weekend, as Garrett is apt to do on a weekly basis. How well “Q” keeps Chaisson and the Jags’ other pass rushers at bay will determine the ceiling for the Titans offense in this game.
- WR Corey Davis vs CB Tre Herndon
The Jaguars placed rookie corner C.J. Henderson on injured reserve recently, making Tre Herndon the top healthy corner as Sydney Jones continues to work through various ailments. Herndon was the Jaguars highest-graded player on defense last week per PFF grading, likely buoyed by his team-leading nine tackles.
The Vikings top receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson combined for 17 catches, 196 yards, and two touchdowns last weekend. Corey Davis exploded for career highs in receptions and receiving yards against Cleveland last week and could be in for another big day on Sunday.
A.J. Brown returned to practice Friday, and he and Davis form a tandem as dangerous as the Vikings’ duo, if not more. Herndon will have his hands full no matter which receiver lines up across from him.
Jacksonville is one of those teams that places extra emphasis on stopping Derrick Henry, which could open things up for Davis even more.
- CB Malcolm Butler vs WR Collin Johnson
It’s hard to say how the Titans will approach the Jacksonville passing game. We’ve seen some matchups this year with Butler trailing the opponent’s top receiver, and others where the Titans’ corners stay home on their side of the field.
If it was up to me, I’d have Butler shadow Johnson and see if the veteran cornerback can’t erase the rookie receiver on his own. That would allow Tennessee to shift extra help towards Tye Smith, likely to start at outside corner, against a talented playmaker in D.J. Chark.
It could be a long day for the Titans pass defense with Breon Borders ruled out and none of Adoree Jackson, Kristian Fulton, or Kareem Orr ready to make their returns. Although rookie Chris Jackson is back from his stint on the COVID list, the Titans have utilized him mostly in the slot.
If Butler can lock down his matchup, it would make things a lot easier on Tye Smith and the rest of the backend of the defense. Look for bracket coverage applied wherever Chark goes and Desmond King to take on Keelan Cole out of the slot.
Due to the NFL’s strict copyright policy which they have chosen to enforce against our website, I unfortunately will not be including any GIFs here. However, we’ve received clearance to use still images, which should help illustrate the concepts.
I will try to embed the plays I’m referencing where able or include links to view them on Twitter or YouTube. Alternatively, you could potentially look up the plays if you have a subscription to NFL Gamepass.
Titans Defense vs Jaguars Offense
As I mentioned above, the Jaguars offense is predicated on their rushing attack. Gruden uses a diverse mix of run concepts and is unafraid to hand off from various formations and personnel groupings. That said, the basis of the attack is the zone scheme that looks to find lanes and exploit cutback opportunities.
Use the arrows to scroll through the galleries below:
Robinson is a talented back with good burst and excellent contact balance to run through arm tackles. He does a fine job of finding lanes, but his vision is inconsistent.
The Titans will need to stay disciplined in their gaps and muddy up Robinson’s reads to contain the run game. Look at this play below, where Robinson overreacts to Karl Joseph crashing and runs right into a pile of bodies for just a one-yard gain.