When researching for Buffalo Bills opponent previews such as this, I take a look at a lot of stats to see what to highlight. Well, I found a curious thing. As many of you know I put a lot of stock in drive averages. Only four games in, certainly these aren’t final, but there’s an argument to be made that teams are starting to show what they’re made of at this point. If the trend holds, the Jacksonville Jaguars will be looked back on as having a very good defense.
On a per-drive basis, the Bills allow 1.19 points per drive. That’s fifth best in the league. In sixth place? The Jaguars at 1.55 points per drive. Buffalo allows a score on 23.8% of drives (fourth). The Jaguars allow a score on 27.3% (sixth). The Bills create turnovers at a higher pace than any team in the league (26.2% of drives). The Jaguars are fourth-best in the league (18.2%) at creating turnovers. We don’t have time for all their secrets (nor could I likely figure them all out). But we do have time to answer one question you might be asking. The question: That all sounds good but have they played anyone good?
Let’s look at some drive killers against the Kansas City Chiefs. They’re a team you might have heard about, which Jacksonville held to 17 points.
Failed Drive 1
On Kansas City’s first drive of the game they were set up with 3rd & Short. The Jaguars crowded the line a bit but mixed up their coverage when the ball was snapped. Jacksonville’s coverage was good, which allowed the pressure to reach quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In a last-ditch effort, he released the ball and found his man — who inexplicably stood there and allowed himself be tackled short of the line to gain.
Yes, that’s left tackle Donovan Smith and it’s a penalty for him to catch that pass. He wisely just waited for the play to end and let himself be tackled without fuss to prevent injury. It’s possible Mahomes was trying to throw it away but that would be a good argument for intentional grounding. No matter what, this is a fun play.
There are points in this play where it looks like KC could have had the first down. Arguably yes, but these opportunities would need to have been timing plays and it’s hard to tell what the progression is supposed to be all the time. That said, I was pretty surprised to see that quick strike on the bottom of the screen didn’t happen.
Failed Drive 2
On this actual drive ender, certainly give credit to the Jaguars, but the prior play had an offensive holding call set KC back into this 3rd & 20. To give more credit to Jacksonville’s defense, the plays prior to that were an incomplete pass and a pass that was quickly sniffed out with a tackle for no gain. The holding made this an incredibly tough hole to climb out of, but Jacksonville did help put them there (see Failed Drive 6 below for a similar sequence).
Failed Drive 3
Kansas City had moved the ball to near midfield and were faced with a 3rd & 7 after a loss of two. Mahomes had lots of time and made a throw well past the sticks. I’m pretty sure up top I mentioned something about Jacksonville being good at taking the ball away. The second man in hit the arm of the ball carrier and knocked this one loose.
Failed Drive 4
Hey, did someone say something about the Jaguars being pretty good at taking the ball away? I think I might have heard that recently. Kansas City’s fourth stalled drive started with a botched snap that still managed to gain a yard. That was followed up by a false start to put them into this 2nd & 14. The Chiefs didn’t need all the yards here but tried to get them anyway. The long-developing play has good coverage by the Jaguars. The four players rushing Mahomes got far enough into his space to land a hit and prevent him from stepping up to make the throw. The underthrown pass was a credit to the front four. The interception to clean it up on the back end was courtesy of the defensive backfield and closing speed.
Failed Drive 5
Yes, long third downs are pretty tough for the most part — for any team in the NFL. So the bigger question is how did the Chiefs get there in the firsts place? A combination of good play from Jacksonville and two holding calls that set KC back 15 yards. This play was actually after Mahomes and company got a good chunk of yardage back.
Failed Drive 6 — First down
For our last failed drive we’ll look at all three plays. Kansas City tried a quick strike to get a play maker in space. The blocking right ahead was alright, but cornerback Tre Herndon got his left arm out and dislodged the ball. Instead of a small chunk ahead, it’s became a loss of 11.
Failed Drive 6 — Second and too many
Now way behind schedule Kansas City tried a different quick strike to get someone in space. The Jaguars pass rush did a good job of making sure Mahomes really did want to get that ball out fast. Herndon again make a play on the ball. This time he crashed down after seeing Mahomes bring his arm back to throw... and suddenly it’s 3rd & 21.
Failed Drive 6 — Third and a football mile
This third and forever looks a lot like the plays preceding it. A big takeaway here is the closing speed on the tackle. This isn’t a bad play to end it on as the Jaguars seem to like playing fast.
There are a healthy dose of mistakes by the Kansas City Chiefs when you look at why so many of their drives failed against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That said, the Jaguars created some of these mistakes (underthrown pass for example). The Jaguars were also very good at making sure the Chiefs didn’t recover from said mistakes.
What should Bills Mafia expect? If Week 1 Josh Allen decides to be the one to fly to London, the Jaguars won’t let the Buffalo Bills escape with a win. Thankfully that’s not something anyone should count on. On the other hand, Allen’s been insanely efficient and careful with the ball for three straight games. No one should expect a cliff, but a few mistakes could be a big opening for Jacksonville.