Monday, August 15, 2011

Mismatch: Patriots QBs vs. Jaguars Defense

Memo to fans of the New England Patriots: please take a deep breath, a step back, and two chill pills about Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallet. Last Thursday, the young Patriots players didn't do anything special against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They simply did what Patriots quarterbacks always do to Jack Del Rio's defense -- they destroyed it.

True, Tom Brady is the only other Patriots quarterback to face Jacksonville during Del Rio's tenure, and Brady is acknowledged as a pretty good signal-caller. But no matter what other personnel are on the field -- for either team -- the Patriots passing game is a puzzle the Jaguars head coach can't solve.

Even when you consider that these stats were put up by a future Hall of Fame quarterback, the numbers since Del Rio arrived are discouraging to say the least.

To put a two finer points on those numbers, Brady has never been below his career passer rating (95.2) against Jacksonville, and the Jaguars literally haven't intercepted a single Patriots pass this century. They have also allowed two of Brady's greatest statistical games ever -- back-to-back games with a combined 91% completions, 529 yards through the air, and 7 touchdowns with zero INTs.

Note that given the numbers Brady achieves against Jacksonville, the 68% completions and 109.9 passer rating of Hoyer/Mallet last Thursday seem pedestrian. Which is why Patriots fans should hold off those hotel reservations for Canton in 2031.

For all the success the Patriots had against the Jaguars, the real question is: Why? What is it about Jacksonville's defense that makes backups and rookies look like Pro Bowl quarterbacks? The answer might be simpler than you think: a complete lack of pressure.

In the games listed here, the Jaguars averaged 1 sack for 6 yards and 1 QB hit per game. And those sack numbers are trending down over time -- they had 6 sacks for 28 yards in the first two games, but just 2 sacks for 10 yards in the last three.

In every game Brady had ample time to survey the field and shred Jacksonville's soft zone -- same as Hoyer and Mallet last Thursday. And none of this would be a problem if it happened once and the Jaguars made some adjustments. But they keep trying the same thing, only to fail the same way game after game.

Of course, Jacksonville fans could just chalk it all up to Tom Brady being who he is -- at least they could until that a backup and a rookie thrashed that same defense in the preseason. Hoyer and Mallet might indeed be good NFL quarterbacks someday. One of them might even end up succeeding Brady when he retires. But their performance against Jacksonville last Thursday told you one thing and one thing only: that some things never change, regular season, post-season, and now pre-season.

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS.  0-0!

No comments:

Post a Comment