Jacksonville vs. Cleveland: Breaking Down Jacksonville's Game Plan

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Chad Henne #7 of the Jacksonville Jaguars throws a pass in the second half of the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Winning two out of their past three games, the Jacksonville Jaguars have looked like a different team since their bye week.

Led by head coach Gus Bradley, the 2-9 Jaguars have gone out and played each week with a burning passion and a serious will to win.

Heading into their Week 13 game against the Cleveland Browns, the Jaguars will be looking to string together their second consecutive victory.

But before they can do that, the question becomes what is the right game plan to put up points against the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL?

Nov 24, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne (7) and center Brad Meester (63) signal before a play during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Passes

We all know that Chad Henne isn't the future of this franchise.

But the former University of Michigan quarterback has served as a major upgrade since taking over for Blaine Gabbert earlier this season.

Completing 62.2 percent of his passes for 2,124 yards and four touchdowns, Henne is coming off back-to-back games where he's registered more than 20 completions.

If you watched Henne operate against the Houston Texans, one thing that stood out was how quickly he managed to get the football out of his hands.

NFL Game Rewind

In the example above, Henne makes a quick decision and finds his speedy wide receiver, Ace Sanders, for a huge 51-yard gain.

NFL Game Rewind

From the moment the football is snapped, Henne takes 2.21 seconds to make the correct read and hit Sanders in open space.

Going up against a Browns defense that's only giving up 208.4 passing yards per game, these quick routes and timely releases will be a major component of what the Jaguars will try to do on offense.

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 3: Cornerback Joe Haden #23 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after catching and interception during the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Mille
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Understanding Joe Haden

It may sound like the title of a movie, but if the Jaguars want to win this game, they will need to shift their attention to the most talented player on this Cleveland defense.

An incredible coverage cornerback, Joe Haden most likely will be shadowing Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts throughout the game on Sunday.

Using Pro Football Focus' advanced metrics (subscription required), it's time to dive a little bit deeper to find out what makes Haden such a unique player.

Looking at the stats, Haden has allowed only 38 receptions for 388 yards on 72 passes thrown his way this season.

But where have most of those yards came from? Out of the 388 yards he's given up, 96 of those have come after the catch.

Knowing that Haden is excellent in limiting extra yardage, the Jaguars will have to consistently look for Shorts downfield.

NFL Game Rewind

In the picture above, you'll see exactly how to attack Haden downfield.

Before the ball is even snapped, you can see Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has drawn single coverage with Haden.

Although there is a safety lurking in the secondary, he is taken out of the play thanks to a good route by wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.

NFL Game Rewind

Recognizing the situation, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger immediately gives Brown a chance to make a play.

Despite good coverage by Haden, Brown is able to come down with a big touchdown catch.

While it's hard to compare Shorts to Brown, the lesson here is that when you get one-on-one coverage with Haden, your best chance at finding success is throwing the football downfield.

Because of how good Haden has been over his career, there is no doubt defensive coordinator Ray Horton trusts him. That means you can expect to see plenty of these looks in Week 13.

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates after he scores against the Houston Texans in the first quarter at Reliant Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

What to Do with Maurice Jones-Drew

Over the past couple of weeks, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has started to look like his old self again.

Finding paydirt in three consecutive games, Jones-Drew now faces a dominant Cleveland run defense.

Looking at PFF's grades, the Browns have generated a positive 30 grade on the season for run defense. Allowing just 97.7 rushing yards per game, the Jaguars are going to have to find creative ways to get Jones-Drew the football for him to have any significant impact.

Jaguars general manager David Caldwell told Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union that Jones-Drew could be back next season:

Caldwell says "realistic possibility" of Jones-Drew staying with #Jaguars after this year.

— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) November 27, 2013

Jones-Drew will have to continue to improve if he wants to come back and play next season.

Taking on a stout Cleveland run defense, look for Jones-Drew get a lot of touches in the passing game like he did last week against the Houston Texans.

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Head coach Gus Bradley of the Jacksonville Jaguars watches the action in the second half of the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images


Just a few weeks ago, we were all talking about the possibility of the Jaguars going 0-16. But credit head coach Gus Bradley for keeping this team motivated and focused.

Now heading into another winnable game, the Jaguars need to maintain that stellar level of focus.

With a difficult matchup against a quality Browns defense, limiting mistakes and getting creative on offense will be the keys to leaving Cleveland with their third win of the season.

Watch for Jones-Drew to get involved in the passing game and some of the younger wide receivers to get their chances with Haden covering Shorts.

If quarterback Chad Henne can continue to deliver the football in a timely manner, this game could be a lot of fun for Jaguars fans to watch.

*All stats courtesy of NFL.com unless noted otherwise.


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