Friday, September 25, 2009
AFC South: Final Word
By Paul Kuharsky ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Five nuggets of knowledge about Sunday’s games:
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Matt Schaub can put up big numbers as long as he doesn't get blitzed often.
The Jaguars have to get to Matt Schaub: As you see here, Schaub has been great when not being blitzed. The Jaguars are generating minimal pressure, but if they bring extra people they’re hardly solid in the secondary with reduced numbers, either. Major dilemma. Wouldn’t it be nice for Jacksonville if Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves -- who’s listed these days as an outside backer -- won some one-on-ones and applied some consistent pressure? Beyond them, if I am the Jags, I find every way imaginable to attack left guard Kasey Studdard, who’s in for the injured mainstay Chester Pitts.
Can the Colts dissuade the Cardinals from running? Kurt Warner was historically efficient last week in the win at Jacksonville. Lost in that was the fact that he was playing off a decent run game, or it was playing off him. Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells combined for 116 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Arizona will benefit from similar commitment and production, of course. I don’t know if the Cards are equipped to dominate time of possession. But some long drives may tire out the Colts defense a week removed from a very long and physical game.
The Titans have a handle on Rex Ryan: That doesn’t mean they handle his team’s game plan at Giants Stadium on Sunday. But during Ryan’s four years as defensive coordinator in Baltimore, Tennessee was 2-2 against the Ravens, and the losses were by a combined four points. While the Titans gave the ball away three times and lost 13-10, gaining yards against the Ravens in the playoff game in January wasn’t an issue -- the Titans had 391 including 4.1 per rush attempt.
Houston can play a different brand of run defense: The Texans need to do much better stopping the run, but in this matchup a Colts-like approach could work for them. If they are able to jump out to a lead, the Jaguars will have to throw more and hand it to Maurice Jones-Drew less. The offense can give the defense an easy route to not having to deal with MJD so much. If the Jaguars can stay close, they should run it a ton, and then we’ll have to see if Houston’s made any progress.
This may not be the week for the Colts to run it: Arizona ranks fourth in run defense and 18th against the pass. Playing from behind, the Jaguars only managed to hand the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew 13 times against the Cards. Indy will want to run it enough to make its play-action believable. But if there are pass plays to be found, I envision them taking them and leaving the bigger run issues to be sorted out in the weeks to come.