Pregame Analysis: Jaguars' Long Drives

Find out how Jacksonville has sustained some seven- to 12-minute drives this season -- who they relied on, what direction their plays went -- and what impact that past success could have on tonight's game. And then learn what the Colts can do about it from ColtPower Analyst Greg Talmage.

So far in 2007 the Jacksonville Jaguars have demonstrated an uncanny ability to sustain long, time-consuming drives, two of which lasted 18 plays and consumed nearly 12 minutes each.

In this feature, I'll show you what they're doing and how they're doing it. I'm going to look at the play calls and drive charts from the 3 longest Jaguar drives of the season. By looking at their success on these drives, we can learn which linemen do they prefer to run behind. Or when quarterback David Garrard really needs a 3rd-down conversion, which receiver is his security blanket?

The ability to sustain long drives will be very important for the Jaguars Monday night. It keeps Peyton Manning and the potent Colts Offense on the sideline and wears down the Colts defense.

In the game at Denver back in Week 3, Jacksonville put together a very nice 18-play drive that ate nearly 12 minutes off the clock. 13 of the 18 plays were runs, mixed in with some short and quick passes to wideouts and tight ends. Here's a chart that shows what they did:

DIRECTION LEFT MIDDDLE RIGHT QB SCRAMBLE
# RUNS-YARDS 3-15 4-33 3-9 3-27


PASSES TO RBs TO WRs TO TEs
SHORT (1-8 Yds)   2 2
MID (9-16 Yds) 1    
LONG (17+)      

Looking deeper into the numbers of that drive, three of the 13 runs went for either no gain or a small loss (two up the middle and one to the right)

Four 3rd-down conversions of the drive included a short 4-yard pass to Ernest Wilford for 4-yards on 3rd-and-1, a nice 10-yard scamper by Maurice Jones-Drew behind the left guard, a catch-and-run by Jones-Drew for 10 yards on 3rd-and-9, and a short 3-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Williams on 3rd-and-goal.

At Kansas City in Week 5, Jacksonville again put together an 18 play drive. This one took 11 minutes off the clock and broke down like this:

DIRECTION LEFT MIDDDLE RIGHT QB SCRAMBLE
# RUNS-YARDS 0-0 6-26 3-18 1-1


PASSES TO RBs TO WRs TO TEs
SHORT (1-8 Yds) 2 2 2
MID (9-16 Yds) 1 1  
LONG (17+)      

There were Only two negative or no net-gain plays on the drive -- a sack on Garrard and an incomplete pass over the middle. The Jaguars also had to overcome two false start penalties in a loud Arrowhead Stadium.

Jacksonville faced three 3rd-down conversions on this drive and executed a short pass left to Jones-Drew on 3rd-and-7 that went for 12 yards, a nice 16-yard pass to Dennis Northcutt out of the slot on a 3rd-and-16, and a QB sneak by Garrard on a 3rd-and-1.

Last week at home against Houston, Jacksonville started off the 3rd quarter with a fluid 14-play drive that took seven minutes off the clock and turned a three-point lead into a 10-point margin.

DIRECTION LEFT MIDDDLE RIGHT QB SCRAMBLE
# RUNS-YARDS 2-7 1-7 0-0 1-12


PASSES TO RBs TO WRs TO TEs
SHORT (1-8 Yds) 1 3  
MID (9-16 Yds)   3  
LONG (17+)      

There were just two incomplete passes by Garrard on the drive and no plays resulted in no gain or a loss of yards.
On the two 3rd-down conversions and one on 4th-down conversion during this drive, the Jaguars completed a 10-yard inside slant to Northcutt over the middle on a 3rd-and-5, then a quick 5-yard strike to Matt Jones on 4th-and-4, and then Garrard hit Reggie Williams for the touchdown on 3rd-and-goal from the 8-yard line.

So what can you learn from those three drives that may effect the outcome of the game Monday night?

Well, Garrard is not making many mistakes (no interceptions yet in 2007). He's been a masterful third-down passer and knows how to manage a drive by taking what the defense gives him. Jacksonville features big receivers in Reggie Williams (6-foot-4), Matt Jones (6-foot-6) and Ernest Wilford (6-foot-4), but none of them make consistent plays. And Wilford, especially, lacks speed.

Right now the consistent go-to guy looks to be journeyman Dennis Northcutt, especially on 3rd-down from the slot. So the Marlin Jackson -- who moves inside to cover the slot when the Colts have their nickel defense on the field -- versus Dennis Northcutt battle on 3rd down from the slot will be an important one to monitor.

All of this forces QB David Garrard to throw a lot of dump-offs to his backs -- mainly Maurice Jones-Drew -- and more short to intermediate routes. Garrard also likes to hit his big targets with short, quick passes off the line for 5-7 yards. So it'll be important that the Colt corners wrap up well and prevent those quick hits from turning into something long.

While all of this, as the above drive breakdowns show, doesn't lead to many big plays, it will move the chains and keep Peyton Manning off the field -- and the Colts' small, quick defense on it.

So the Colts have some decisions to make. Should they opt not to respect the perimeter passing game and load up the box versus the run? Or can they trust the front seven to slow the Jaguars running game? Many people have been reminded of the fact that the last time the Colts went to Jacksonville the Jags torched them for 375 running yards. But the personnel is very different for Indianapolis this time around with two new corners, two new linebackers and a healthy Bob Sanders.

Another key question is how do the Colts slow Maurice Jones-Drew -- as a receiver -- down? Colt corners Kelvin Hayden and Marlin Jackson are physical and solid against the run and cover the flats well, so they'll be called upon to help. But they will need to come off blocks from Jaguar receivers, who have a distinct height and weight advantage.


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