A quarterback’s best friend is a strong running game, and the Jaguars have two studs.
The Jaguars drafted Travis Etienne while already having a great running back in James Robinson. Many questioned that decision at the time. That concern may still be a valid one. While Robinson seems comfortable in a gap scheme and has a lot of explosive runs, he is also an above-average receiver out of the backfield. He also excels in pass protection.
The Eagles’ strategy is based both on personnel and play calling. In terms of the trends in the numbers, Jacksonville runs more gap runs than many teams and Jacksonville’s running game also has fewer yards after contact, on average than other teams.
In terms of personnel, the use of a base defense (an additional linebacker compared to nickel) and big nickel defenses (an additional safety) are recommended. Attacking a gap scheme or a pin and pull scheme is all about defeating pulling linemen and replacing them with pressure and penetration into the backfield.
In terms of attacking double teams from the edge, Patrick Johnson and Kyron Johnson should get some reps as a third linebacker in an under or over front with them playing as an overhang defender.
In terms of replacing the pulling linemen with pressure, T.J. Edwards (6’1” 242) is a skilled blitzer and, likely, the best linebacker on the team in that role. Nakobe Dean was drafted for his speed and ability to run sideline to sideline. He was also a great blitzing linebacker at Georgia. Might we see more of him on Sunday?
The use of 42 Under fronts, 42 Over fronts, 50 fronts, and 40 mug fronts are to put five men on the line of scrimmage to both defend against pulling guards and to replace the pullers with penetrators in the backfield.
With Jacksonville’s backs being graded poorly for yards after contact, the additional man on the line of scrimmage, whether a defensive lineman, a linebacker, or a defensive back, the personnel and alignment act to expose another weakness of the Jaguars’ running game: their lack of yards after contact.