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Saints V Jags in Depth Matchup and Prediction

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; New Orleans remains in the hunt for a playoff berth but must continue to win to keep its chances alive. That will be easier said than done against the Jaguars, who have made significant improvement during the season and have ...

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Old 12-18-2003, 09:32 AM   #1
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Saints V Jags in Depth Matchup and Prediction

New Orleans remains in the hunt for a playoff berth but must continue to win to keep its chances alive. That will be easier said than done against the Jaguars, who have made significant improvement during the season and have an excellent defense. The Jaguars have won their past three home games, including one over Indianapolis. . . .

Saints wide receiver Joe Horn caught four touchdown passes last weekend and once again showed that he is among the NFL's most dangerous receivers. Horn also made waves with his celebration following the second touchdown. He pulled a cell phone out of goal-post padding and made a call. . . .

Running back Deuce McAllister is the NFC's leading rusher, four yards ahead of Green Bay's Ahman Green. With two games left, McAllister will want to stay ahead of Green, and his teammates should be eager to help him make it happen.



Saints Keys For Success


1. Health of the interior offensive line. Left guard Kendyl Jacox has missed the past five games, and right guard LeCharles Bentley missed last week's game. It's not known if their injured knees will allow either to return this week.

Rookie Montrae Holland has played well at times in place of Jacox, but he is a much better run blocker than he is a pass blocker. Backup Spencer Folau lacks ideal power for an interior lineman. Jaguars defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson have the bulk to clog the middle and enough quickness to rush the passer.

If Jacox and Bentley are unavailable or if their injuries affect the level of their play, Saints coaches will have to adjust. Rolling quarterback Aaron Brooks out of the pocket and attacking the Jaguars' perimeter run defense are ways to help mask problems.

2. Take chances downfield early. Jacksonville hasn't allowed an opposing back to rush for more than 100 yards since the season's first week, and strong safety Donovin Darius is outstanding in run support. The Saints can help keep Darius off balance and open up the running game by taking early chances with deep passes.

Throwing downfield also could give the Saints the lead, putting pressure on Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich to make plays and taking the crowd out of the game.

3. Maintain gap responsibilities up front and wrap up in the secondary. New Orleans has surrendered 12 runs of 20 yards or longer this season, ranking it in the bottom half of the league. The front seven is getting caught out of position by over-running plays, and defensive backs are tackling poorly, two of the biggest reasons the Saints have been vulnerable to long runs.

Running back Fred Taylor has the vision to take advantage when a defense over-pursues and the elusiveness to make multiple defenders miss. As a result, the front seven must take away cutback lanes by maintaining gap responsibility, and the secondary must make sure tackles in the open field.



Jaguars Keys For Success


1. Execute in the red zone. The Jaguars failed to reach the end zone in each of their three trips inside the 20-yard line last weekend. While Leftwich could have thrown a better pass to tight end Kyle Brady, Brady and Taylor both let passes that would have been touchdowns bounce off their hands. Ideally, Jacksonville would have run the ball. But the offensive line's inability to create a surge and a false start penalty forced it to throw.

Against a Saints offense that scored 45 points last week, Jacksonville must take advantage of its scoring opportunities. Getting better push up front, showing improved concentration while the ball is in the air and eliminating penalties will help the Jaguars get in the end zone when they get near the goal line.

2. Give Taylor at least 20 carries. Taylor had rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his past three games heading into New England last weekend but carried the ball 16 times against the Patriots. Although Taylor is best known for his elusiveness and breakaway speed, he also has great size and power. He can establish an effective interior running game that allows Jacksonville to control the clock and wear down the Saints' front seven. Consistently giving him the ball also helps take pressure of Leftwich and keeps the pass rush on its heels.

3. Test Brooks' ability to hold onto the football. Brooks has fumbled five times over the past two games and doesn't always feel pressure closing in around him. The Jaguars can take advantage by trying to tomahawk the ball or knock it loose when Brooks drops back to pass. While Brooks has excellent mobility and Jacksonville doesn't want to give up a long run because of missed tackles, the Jaguars also must look to strip the ball when Brooks scrambles out of the pocket.



Injury Update

Saints

WR Donte' Stallworth: Ankle (12/13).
Stallworth practiced for the first time all week on Friday and looked fast, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. Stallworth even did more work after practice, running routes and catching passes from Aaron Brooks. However, coach Jim Haslett said Stallworth's status will be a game-time decision. The coach wants to see how the ankle responds to Friday's workout.


Jaguars




The Bottom Line

Jacksonville is 4-10 and out of the playoffs, but the team has steadily improved throughout the season and the players appear to be buying into first-year coach Jack Del Rio's long-term plan.

The Jaguars' excellent front seven will limit McAllister's production on the ground and put pressure on New Orleans' passing game to execute consistently. While Brooks will continue to play well, dropped passes and defensive pressure will result in some stalled drives.

Taylor will have good success against a Saints' run defense that has been porous at times and could break some long runs if New Orleans doesn't maintain better gap responsibility. With the running game taking pressure off him, Leftwich will bounce back from last week's two-interception performance with a strong game. The result will be a costly loss for the Saints.

Pick: Jaguars 26, Saints 23


When The Saints Have The Ball

STAT COMPARISON
Pts/game SCORED ALLOWED
22.0 20.8
Pass Yds/game GAINED ALLOWED
208.3 198.9
Rush Yds/game GAINED ALLOWED
134.4 84.2

By The War Room
For Sporting News


The Saints are hopeful that left guard Kendyl Jacox will return to action after recovering from a knee injury, but how the injury and missing five games because of it affects his level of play remains to be seen. His health is important, considering the team's other guard injuries. Spencer Folau is set to miss 4-to-6 weeks (patella tendon) and LeCharles Bentley will undergo knee surgery later this month.

Either rookie Jon Stinchcomb will make his first start or rookie Montrae Holland will move over from the left side to play right guard. Both would struggle with Jaguars defensive tackle Marcus Stroud. Stroud has the power to handle Stinchcomb and the quickness to beat Holland off the snap. As a result, Deuce McAllister should have his most success running outside.

The key will be to get a body on middle linebacker Mike Peterson. While Peterson has excellent range and is a good open-field tackler, he struggles to hold his ground when blockers get into his frame. The return of fullback Terrelle Smith from a jaw infection that forced him to miss last week's game would help, though it's unknown if he will be available. Smith explodes into his blocks and has the power to knock back Peterson at the point of attack. If Smith can't play, the Saints can compensate by pulling an offensive lineman.

There is no questioning wide receiver Joe Horn's big-play ability after his four-touchdown game, but he also has dropped several passes this season. Against a Jacksonville defense that has given up only 10 points combined in its past two home games, Horn must show focus and make the most of any passes thrown in his direction.

Quarterback Aaron Brooks can also help New Orleans sustain drives by continuing to make good decisions. Over the past four games, Brooks hasn't thrown an interception. He is going through his progressions, getting rid of the ball quickly and spreading the ball around to his wideouts, tight ends and backs. All that will help keep the Jaguars' secondary off-balance and prevent it from rolling its coverage to one side.

While Brooks needs to do a better job of securing the ball, he also has the mobility to scramble for some first downs when nothing is available downfield.


When The Jaguars Have The Ball

STAT COMPARISON
Pts/game SCORED ALLOWED
17.3 21.4
Pass Yds/game GAINED ALLOWED
213.6 185.4
Rush Yds/game GAINED ALLOWED
119.5 136.6

By The War Room
For Sporting News

Saints rookie left defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan has shown significant improvement during the season, but he is inconsistent and isn't the great interior run stuffer he has the potential to become with improved technique. Right defensive tackle Willie Whitehead, who has missed three of the past four games, may not be available because of a knee injury and backup Kenny Smith lacks ideal size. New Orleans also has little depth at the position.

Jacksonville can take advantage by consistently pounding the ball inside. Guards Chris Naeole and Vince Manuwai are good run blockers capable of getting movement. Center Brad Meester has the burst to quickly get to middle linebacker Orlando Ruff and has the lateral mobility to sustain his blocks.

Fred Taylor excels at reading his blocks and has the balance to bounce off would-be tacklers, making him an effective interior runner. Taylor can also bounce outside and change directions quickly when he sees the Saints' defensive ends trying to close down or strong safety Jay Bellamy filling too quickly.

Byron Leftwich appeared confused at times last week in New England and made some bad throws that resulted in interceptions. The Saints will look to exploit that weakness by throwing several different looks at Leftwich, so he must learn to trust his blockers. His pass protection has been great of late, giving up only four sacks over the past six games. By staying patient and reading the defense before releasing the ball, he greatly reduces the chances of a turnover.

Leftwich must also take advantage of the single-coverage opportunities the Jaguars' three-receiver sets will create. Jimmy Smith has the leaping ability to win any jump balls over Fred Thomas and Troy Edwards has the speed to get behind aging Ashley Ambrose. Nickel back Fakhir Brown also will struggle to stay with No. 3 receiver Kevin Johnson.

Saints free safety Tebucky Jones shows good range and has done well to prevent big plays, but he doesn't always take great angles to the ball and struggles to recover once he gets caught out of position. Leftwich can look off Jones or pump-fake in one direction before throwing to the opposite side. Getting the ball downfield early will help open up both the running game and the short-to-intermediate passing game.
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Old 12-18-2003, 10:20 AM   #2
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Saints V Jags in Depth Matchup and Prediction

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Old 12-18-2003, 10:24 AM   #3
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Saints V Jags in Depth Matchup and Prediction

Sorry I usually post the source forgot this time. It is from The Sporting News NFL Matchups section, there is no link to premium content sections.
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Old 12-18-2003, 11:14 AM   #4
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Saints V Jags in Depth Matchup and Prediction

Wow, you\'d think we were playing a 10-4 team primed for a superbowl run.
If I didn\'t know their record I\'d assume they were the fricking Indy Colts.

After reading that analysis it appears we have absolutely no chance of beating this team. They will run and pass on us at will and we\'ll go 3-&-out the entire day.

I may as well not even watch this massacre.
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Old 12-18-2003, 11:33 AM   #5
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Saints V Jags in Depth Matchup and Prediction

Jacksonville 28, Indianapolis 23 -- They beat the Colts and holding Indy to 23 points is very respectable.
Tennessee 10, Jacksonville 3 -- Held Titans to a mere 10 points.
N.Y. Jets 13, Jacksonville 10 -- Held Jets to a mere 13 points.
Jacksonville 17, Tampa Bay 10 -- Held Tampa to 10 points
Jacksonville 27, Houston 0 -- The 0 speaks for itself
New England 27, Jacksonville 13 -- Gave up 27 but to the best team in football.

This team is very dangerous. They weren\'t playing well earlier in the year, but there defense is one of the best in the league now. If their offense can put up at least 20 points, they have a VERY good chance at beaing us.

This is a good test for Jim Haslett to prove he can come up with a good game plan. As well as Mike McCarthy. We have the weapons on offense and it\'s up to McCarthy to expliot the weaknesses.
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Old 12-18-2003, 11:39 AM   #6
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Saints V Jags in Depth Matchup and Prediction

Yep, I agree with Billy. The Jags aren\'t going to roll over for us.

They have awesome run defense and an ok running attack (not great but serviceable).

I\'d guess it\'s going to come down to which QB makes the fewest rookie mistakes.

[Edited on 18/12/2003 by BrooksMustGo]
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Old 12-18-2003, 11:58 AM   #7
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Saints V Jags in Depth Matchup and Prediction

By the way, those were the LAST 6 games that I posted.

Just for fun, let\'s see what other QB\'s have done against the Jaguars the last six games. I think it is going to come down to how Brooks does passing the ball, and as BMG mentioned, how many mistakes Brooks makes.

QB\'s against Jaguars in last six games:

P. Manning 28/45 347 2 2
S. McNair 13/25 166 1 1
C. Pennington 25/39 236 1 1
B. Johnson 21/38 156 0 1
D. Ragone 11/23 71 0 1
T. Brady 22/34 228 2 0

As you can see, the Jags have gone up against some of the best QB\'s in the league. Peyton had the biggest day, but also threw for 2 interceptions. Brady did well and had no picks. The rest had very average or bad games.

We\'ll see how Brooks does.
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Old 12-18-2003, 12:01 PM   #8
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Saints V Jags in Depth Matchup and Prediction

Yea I\'m well aware of how dangerous this team is. They\'re the best team we\'ve faced since Philly. My point was they don\'t give us any respect. It seemed like a one-sided analysis. They are probably the best 4-10 team in the league but you\'d think they were playing a 2-12 Saints team.

[Edited on 18/12/2003 by Danno]
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