15 Sep 2008
by Ned Macey
This week's AGS for ESPN focuses on the Bills' young defense and the massive injuries on the Jaguars' offensive line. The Bills' defense won the game, but the other side of the battle -- Bills offense v. Jaguars defense -- deserves a little more of an explanation.
Last year, Trent Edwards was equally effective as J.P. Losman. They ranked 30th and 32nd respectively in DVOA, and 31st and 32nd in DYAR. Some commentators (OK, just me) thought that the Bills should play Losman because he was able to utilize the team's biggest weapon, Lee Evans. Evans went from 1,292 yards in 2006 to 849 last year. Early this season, Evans is averaging a career-best 89.5 yards per game.
Edwards appears infinitely more confident in the pocket. The Bills ran a fair amount of empty backfield formations against Jacksonville. Edwards would sit in the pocket and wait for plays to develop, rather than immediately throwing the ball away. Despite a conservative offense, Edwards only completed 56 percent of his passes. He still relies heavily on his underneath throws, with Fred Jackson a frequent target on Sunday, but he is now able to run a full offense.
The high quality performance seems more impressive than it likely will be because of the the Jaguars' defensive reputation. They fell to 13th in defensive DVOA last season. Their defensive tackle duo of John Henderson and Marcus Stroud was broken up with Stroud's trade to Buffalo. The secondary remains in flux, with Brian Williams transferring to safety, and the underwhelming Drayton Florence starting at cornerback. The Jaguars will need their young defensive ends to make an immediate impact, or they'll need their offense to return to its 2007 level if they want to make the playoffs.
27 comments, Last at 19 Sep 2008, 12:44pm by In_Belichick_We_Trust
Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?