Titans @ Jaguars
Final Score: Jaguars 34, Titans 14
Writer: Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)
This matchup always screams Thursday Night Color Rush to me, and the fact that it wasn’t is kind of disappointing. Jacksonville struggled on the ground throughout this game, but through the air they were elite. Trevor Lawrence found his stud WR Calvin Ridley time after time, including for two touchdowns. The Jaguars gave themselves a big lead early and kept it out of reach for the entire game.
On the other side, Tennessee struggled to do much of anything on offense. They ran only 38 offensive plays (Jacksonville had 69), and with Derrick Henry ineffective on the ground it was up to Will Levis to make some plays. And he wasn’t really able to do that on a consistent basis. Jacksonville retains sole possession of first place in the AFC South with the win, while Tennessee remains at the bottom of a surprisingly competitive division and doesn’t stand much of a chance to get back into the race.
- Calvin Ridley – Came back in a big way with two touchdowns and over 100 yards through the air
- Trevor Lawrence – Threw two TDs to Ridley and scored two on the ground himself
- Derrick Henry – Only 10 carries and did nothing with them
- Travis Etienne Jr. – Had a tough go of it against a tough in-division opponent. Doesn’t help that Lawrence scored two TDs on the ground
Will Levis: 13/17, 158 yards, 2 TD, 2 sacks, fumble (lost) | 4 carries, 2 yards
Look, the stats for Levis were okay at face value. But I really didn’t think he played all that well today. The lone mistake in the box score is the fumble, but it was a high snap that he couldn’t corral and it wasn’t entirely his fault. So I don’t hold that against him. What I do hold against him is missing a wide open Chig Okonkwo downfield on 3rd and short, throwing it at his feet and not giving him a chance to make a play on the ball. I hold the two near-interceptions that he almost threw while scrambling to his left. Both balls went through the hands of defenders and at least one should have been picked. He was lucky. If defenses want to make Levis uncomfortable, they should make him scramble to his left and try to throw.
Levis didn’t face much pressure early in the game. In fact, I was surprised how much time he had to throw on a few occasions. That did not last long, however, as Jacksonville eventually dialed up the pressure and really made him feel uncomfortable. At one point he was sacked hard by two defenders on 3rd and short, but was bailed out by a questionable roughing the passer penalty that gave Tennessee a fresh set of downs. The next play was a razzle dazzle TD pass to DeAndre Hopkins where Levis lined up as a WR then got the ball after two reverse laterals. It was a nice play, but it shouldn’t have happened. His second touchdown came in garbage time and was thrown to DT Jeffrey Simmons.
Derrick Henry: 10 carries, 38 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards
Jacksonville did a good job of bottling up the run all day, save for one 16 yard run by Henry where he looked like the Derrick Henry of old. Otherwise, there was nowhere to run for the king. Negative game script in the second half certainly didn’t help things at all, either, as they essentially abandoned the run once the game was out of hands. Hopefully there are better days ahead for Henry and his fantasy managers.
Tyjae Spears: 4 carries, 14 yards | 2 targets. 2 receptions, 12 yards
- Made a nice move to avoid a tackle, nearly powered through two defenders for a first down but a third defender came in and finished him
Wide Receiver/Tight End
DeAndre Hopkins: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 59 yards, TD
As I mentioned in Will Levis‘ blurb, Hopkins’ 43 yard touchdown catch came on a play that really shouldn’t have happened due to a questionable roughing the passer call that gave Tennessee a fresh set of downs. Fortunately for Hopkins managers this one play saved an otherwise poor day against a Jaguars defense that seemed to have all the answers for Tennessee’s offense. Once Jacksonville started dialing up the pressure on Levis, he didn’t have much time to throw and Hopkins was basically an afterthought at that point. Chalk it up as just a bad day all around for this offense.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: 1 target, 1 reception, 7 yards
Chigoziem Okonkwo: 2 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards
- Wide open downfield, Levis underthrew him
- Tackled a yard short of the first down, ended the drive
Chris Moore: 1 target, 1 reception, 49 yards | 1 carry, 38 yards
- Huge 38 yard run on an end around. Jaguars LB Josh Allen did not keep containment and Moore turned on the jets with plenty of blockers in front of him
Kyle Philips: 1 target, 1 reception, 10 yards
Josh Whyle: 2 targets, 1 reception, 7 yards
Jeffery Simmons: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards, TD
Trevor Lawrence: 24/32, 262 yards, 2 TD | 5 carries, 17 yards, 2 TD
Trevor Lawrence put the Jaguars on his back and was involved in all four of their end zone trips. Lawrence had good protection for much of the day, and when protection broke down he was able to use his legs to scramble and keep plays alive. Calvin Ridley was cooking from the get-go, and kept finding himself open downfield. Lawrence finally did a good job of getting the ball to his most talented WR, and Ridley did a good job of getting his feet in bounds on both of his receiving TDs. Lawrence earned two touchdown runs on the ground – one was of the scramble variety while the other was a designed QB run. He was able to dive and extend the ball over the goal line both times. Lawrence managers have to be happy with this performance after a poor season performance up to this point.
Travis Etienne Jr.: 14 carries, 52 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 7 yards
Tennessee’s run defense has uncharacteristically struggled this season, but they looked much better today against a division opponent. It wasn’t for lack of trying, however, as Jacksonville actually game out with a run first approach on their first two drives. They converted a few third downs through the air, but first and second down on the ground was not successful. Once they realized that would be the case, Jacksonville decided to attack downfield using Calvin Ridley and it kept working. No sense in forcing anything when the air attack was working as well as it would.
Tank Bigsby: 9 carries, 21 yards
Bigsby’s first carry came late in the game on 4th and 1 in the red zone with the game already pretty much out of hand. He then took every carry on Jacksonville’s next drive in garbage time.
D’Ernest Johnson: 7 carries, 20 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 34 yards
Johnson came in as a nice change of pace back in this one. He didn’t find a ton of room to run but he had a huge catch and run to gain 34 yards.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Calvin Ridley: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 103 yards, 2 TD
This looked like a Ridley game right from the get-go, as Ridley converted third and long with a big catch on Jacksonville’s first drive. He immediately stood up, flexed, and yelled at the sky. I had a feeling we’d see more of Ridley after that release of frustration and sure enough we did. Against man coverage, Tennessee could not cover Ridley at all. With plenty of time to throw, Trevor Lawrence had time to let Ridley work downfield and he did just that. Ridley scored two toe-tap touchdowns in spectacular fashion and was the man that Lawrence kept looking for in tough spots. It was a huge bounce-back game for Ridley that hopefully bodes well for the stretch run.
Christian Kirk: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 48 yards
With Ridley going off, Kirk was an afterthought. He made a phenomenal catch on the sideline early in the game, getting both feet down in bounds after leaping to catch an errant throw. Otherwise he was quiet and simply not a factor in this one.
Zay Jones: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 20 yards
Jones caught everything thrown his way but was the fourth option in this offense on a day where the game was pretty much wrapped up early in the second half.
Evan Engram: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 29 yards
Engram was the short dump off option for Lawrence if pressure was in his face, but if pressure got to him and Lawrence had to scramble he either looked Ridley’s way downfield or ran it into the end zone.
Luke Farrell: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 21 yards