Cardinals vs. Jaguars: Breaking Down Jacksonville's Game Plan

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2013

Nov 10, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley on the sideline against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at LP Field. Jacksonville won 29-27. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

It finally happened. The Jacksonville Jaguars launched themselves into the win column this season.

After beating the Tennessee Titans 29-27 in Week 10, Jacksonville fans can exhale a gigantic sigh of relief, as the team has distanced itself from the 0-16 Detroit Lions

Now, heading into their Week 11 showdown with the Arizona Cardinals, the Jaguars will need to channel some of that winning momentum in order to stun the world once again.

To better understand how the Jaguars can piece together a winning game plan, it's time to go back and examine the film from last week's big victory over the Titans.

Become the Tim Burton of turnovers

Legendary movie director Tim Burton once said, "One person's craziness is another person's reality."

If the Jaguars have any chance of beating the Cardinals in Week 11, they will need to take those words to heart.

Having the NFL's 28th-ranked defense means that in order to find any sort of success on a weekly basis, the Jaguars will find inventive ways to generate turnovers.

That art of generating turnovers was put on display last week against the Titans.

Watching film, you'll notice that early in the first quarter the Jaguars managed to do a fantastic job of dislodging the football from Titans running back Chris Johnson.

Linebacker Paul Posluszny strips the football away from Chris Johnson.
Linebacker Paul Posluszny strips the football away from Chris Johnson.NFL Game Rewind

In the picture above, linebacker Paul Posluszny reads the play and puts himself in a great position to make a play on the football.

The Jaguars have plenty of bodies in place to recover the loose football.
The Jaguars have plenty of bodies in place to recover the loose football.NFL Game Rewind

With the rest of the Jacksonville defense shifting over towards Johnson, the team dramatically increased the chances of recovering the loose football.

Thankfully Posluszny not only forced the fumble, he was also was the first guy to get on the ball.

All in all, this was one heck of an effort from the AFC Defensive Player of the Week 

Oct 27, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) runs for an 80 yard touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sport

Against the Cardinals, the Jaguars will be faced with the tough task of stopping rookie running back Andre Ellington. 

Averaging 7.2 yards per carry this season, Ellington's elusiveness and ability to explode through the line of scrimmage will force Jacksonville's linebacking corps to hunt for turnovers.

One of the best ways to do that is by taking advantage of rookie mistakes.

In the picture below, you'll notice that Ellington puts the football in a prime position to be stripped away.

NFL Game Rewind

Trying to find room between the tackles, Ellington loses his balance, and he drops his pad-level and one of his arms in the process. These types of runs are incredibly dangerous because they expose the football to opposing defenders. Luckily for Ellington, this time he managed to slip by the defense and pick up a four-yard gain.

Mistakes like these might not happen often, but when they do, it shines a luminous ray of hope on Jacksonville's chances of winning this football game.

With an offense that has struggled to put up points, finding creative Tim Burton-like ways to generate turnovers will be a huge key for their success in Week 11.

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 27:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass during the NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 27, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Ge
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Force Carson Palmer to go deep

You would think with Bruce Arians as their head coach, the Arizona Cardinals would be able to abuse teams throwing the football downfield.

Instead, quarterback Carson Palmer has struggled tremendously this season finding his targets on deep balls.

According to Pro Football Focus' advanced metrics (subscription required), Palmer is the most inaccurate QB in the league when throwing the ball 20 yards or more. On his 38 attempts downfield, Palmer has managed to connect with his receivers only eight times. 

If the Jaguars can take away the middle of the field and force Palmer to make longer throws, they will put themselves in a great position to win this game.

With a defensive background, head coach Gus Bradley needs to make sure his team focuses on implementing this strategy.

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10:  Quarterback Chad Henne #7 of the Jacksonville Jaguars drops back to throw a pass against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 10, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Create space for Cecil Shorts

Even though the Jaguars managed to defeat the Titans, it wasn't because of their offense.

Just how bad is this offense? Well, through the first 10 weeks of the 2013 NFL season, the Jaguars are on a historically bad pace.

According to Football Outsiders, Jacksonville has the fourth-worst offensive DVOA of all time.

Despite all of the impressive things they did defensively in Week 10, starting quarterback Chad Henne finished the game with 14 completions for 180 yards and two interceptions.

While Henne has been bad all season—PFF has Henne ranked as the 34th-worst QB in the NFL—things have gotten worse ever since Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union broke the news about wide receiver Justin Blackmon's suspension: 

Blackmon suspended indefinitely without pay for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) November 1, 2013

Among other things, Blackmon's departure means the Jaguars are now stuck with the daunting task of finding different ways to get their other standout wide receiver Cecil Shorts the football.

In last week's game against the Titans, they didn't do a great job of that.

Even though Shorts was on the field for 59 of the team's 60 offensive snaps, he was targeted a season-low four times.

Whether you blame it on the ball-hawking skills of Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner or Henne's inability to play quarterback effectively, the fact is that this coaching staff has to do a better job of getting Shorts more touches in Week 11.

Because horrible decisions like the example pictured below just won't cut it. 

Chad Henne forces the football to Cecil Shorts.
Chad Henne forces the football to Cecil Shorts.NFL Game Rewind

From the start of the play, you can see that Shorts is faced with tight coverage from Verner.

Staring down Shorts the entire time, Henne throws the ball directly to Verner.
Staring down Shorts the entire time, Henne throws the ball directly to Verner.NFL Game Rewind

Although Henne sees that pre-snap, he ignores the coverage and instead chooses to launch the football directly into Verner's hands. 

If the Jaguars want to have any chance of finding success through the air on this Arizona defense, they will need to give Shorts more room to work in the open field.

With another tough assignment in cornerback Patrick Peterson likely headed his way, this coaching staff is going to have their hands full finding new ways to get their best wide receiver the football.

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10:  Will Blackmon #24 of the Jacksonville Jaguars scores a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans after stripping the ball at LP Field on November 10, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images


When it comes down to it, the tape doesn't lie.

And what the tape showed last week was in that in order for the Jaguars to win football games, they flat-out need guys on both sides of the football to make plays.

As simple as that might sound, it's the truth.

Stick to your assignments, work harder than the guy next to you and trust the system. If this Jacksonville team wants to shock the Cardinals in Week 11, those are three essentials lessons they have to live by.

*All stats courtesy of unless noted otherwise.


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