Sunday, November 24, 2013
Location key to stopping Andre Johnson
By Michael DiRocco
HOUSTON -- Safety Josh Evans sounded a lot like a real estate agent on Sunday when he was explaining how the Jaguars defended Houston receiver Andre Johnson.
Location, location, location.
Everyone needed to know exactly where Johnson was at all times, Evans said. Find him when he left the huddle, check where he lined up, keep an eye on him when he went in motion, and make sure he didn’t go anywhere unaccompanied after the snap.
The Jaguars' corralled Andre Johnson all afternoon, limiting the Texans' star to just two receptions.
"The whole thing was to see where he was at on the field at all times and I think we did a good job of that," Evans said after the Jaguars' 13-6 victory at Reliant Stadium. "We know that he was their main threat and their main guy they wanted to go to, so eliminating him just kind of made things a little easier for the defense."
The Jaguars didn’t eliminate Johnson from the game, but they came pretty darn close. Johnson caught just two passes for 36 yards: a 15-yarder on third-and-6 early in the third quarter and a 21-yarder on third-and-4 on the Texans’ final drive.
It was his worst performance of the season, surpassing his three-catch day in the Texans’ 34-3 loss to San Francisco.
"We suck as an offense," Johnson said. "That’s pretty much it."
But the Texans didn’t stink at getting Johnson the ball this season. He entered the game second in the NFL with 72 catches and needed just 34 yards for his seventh’s 1,000-yard season. Quarterback Case Keenum targeted him once in the first quarter, once in the second, and once early in the third before the two finally hooked up for a 15-yard gain.
Johnson should have had his first catch in the second quarter on a deep in, but safety Winston Guy hammered Johnson from behind and knocked the ball loose.
"That’s one of those plays you need throughout the game," cornerback Alan Ball said. "When they get big hits like that no matter what it does to the offensive player it ignites us. That was a boost for us."
The Jaguars play almost exclusively man coverage and Ball drew Johnson most of the game. He was rarely alone, though. He had safety help over the top and a player without coverage responsibilities sliding over to help on shorter routes. Another factor was the pass rush. The Jaguars got good pressure on Keenum, sometimes using blitzes up the middle, and was able to rattle him into some errant throws.
The Jaguars sacked Keenum twice, hit him five other times, and broke up nine passes, including two at the line of scrimmage by tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. One of Marks’ deflections came on a throw to Johnson.
"Our D-line did a great job," middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "You put pressure on and that makes a world of difference. All of a sudden the quarterback can't stand in the pocket and look for No. 80 downfield. He’s got guys in his face. That makes a world of difference."
Making Johnson a non-factor was a bit surprising considering Arizona’s Carson Palmer threw for 419 yards last week and Michael Floyd caught six passes for 193 yards and a touchdown. Evans said the secondary was stung by that performance and felt that corralling Johnson would be a good way to make up for it.
But he didn’t know just how good of a job they had done.
"As the game’s going you honestly don’t even pay attention to it that much because you’re trying to work on getting off the field on third down," Evans said. "But you start noticing, ‘Hey, we’re starting to do a pretty good job on him and he hasn’t had a lot of touches.’"