Sam Darnold, Gardner Minshew
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

ESNY’s Michael Nania brings the numbers with the New York Jets-Jacksonville Jaguars statistical scouting report. 

Throughout the season, I’ll be previewing the New York Jets‘ opponent each week with a look at their greatest strengths and weaknesses from a statistical standpoint.

Let’s dive into some key numbers on the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into this Sunday’s AFC battle.

Jaguars offense

Strength: Big plays

Jacksonville’s offense has done a tremendous job of moving the ball through chunk gains, and they’ve been doing it both through the air and on the ground.

In the passing game, the Jaguars have collected 28 plays of 20 yards or more, tied for the seventh-most in the league. Second-year wide receiver D.J. Chark has been the driving force behind that production. He has hauled in 12 receptions of 20-plus yards, tying him for the third-most in the league behind only Stefon Diggs and Chris Godwin.

The Jaguars are tied for third in 30-plus yard passing plays, of which they have 14. Chark pulled in eight of those, two more than any other player over the first seven weeks of the season.

Gardner Minshew has amassed 785 passing yards on 20-plus yard plays, 11th most. Chark’s 396 receiving yards on those plays is second to only Diggs.

Doug Marrone‘s offense has racked up big plays on the ground as well. Their total of 30 runs for 10 yards or more ranks as the fourth-most. Leonard Fournette was responsible for 20 of those, tying him with Ezekiel Elliott for the league lead going into Week 8. His total of 441 rushing yards on 10-plus yard runs leads the NFL.

Fournette has picked up three 40-plus yard runs, more than 29 teams in the league have so far (and of course, more than any other player).

If your defense breaks down against the Jaguars, you better believe they are going to take full advantage of it.

Weakness: Situational football

Jacksonville ranks 14th in yards per drive (32.6) but only 22nd in points per drive (1.7). The reason ⁠— their terrible performance in clutch situations.

The Jaguars have converted on only 30.8 percent of third downs, sixth-worst. They have been particularly poor in the passing game, converting on just 28.8 percent of third-down passing plays. On third down, Gardner Minshew has averaged only 6.4 yards per attempt, ranking 25th out of the 35 quarterbacks with at least 20 third-down pass attempts.

The red zone has been another major problem for the Jaguars offense. They have scored a touchdown on a measly 33.3 percent of their red-zone trips, worst in the NFL.

While the passing attack has been the primary reason for Jacksonville’s third-down struggles, the run game has been their major weakness in the red zone. Astoundingly, the Jags have converted a first down or a touchdown on just two of 34 run plays in the red zone. That’s a 5.9 percent rate, worst in the league by a humongous margin. The 31st-ranked Lions have been over twice as good, converting 13 percent of the time.

Jaguars defense

Strength: Pass rush

A dominant pass rush continues to be the core of Jacksonville’s solid defense, which ranks 11th in fewest points allowed per drive.

The Jags rank seventh in sack rate (7.7 percent) and sixth in pressure rate (28.9 percent).

Calais Campbell is the man that keeps opposing offensive linemen up at night. He has amassed 36 pressures this season, eighth-most in the league and tops among interior defenders.

Despite struggles in other areas of the game, Josh Allen has used his speed to make an instant impact as a pass rusher. He has 23 pressures, tied for 24th among edge defenders and 32nd among all defensive players.

Yannick Ngakoue has gotten off to a slow start (two sacks, four quarterback hits, 18 pressures), but he is a force to be reckoned with that is due to break out soon. From 2017-18, he ranked second in quarterback hits with 56, behind only Aaron Donald. He tied for 11th in sacks, with 21.5.

Ngakoue enjoyed his first two meetings with the Jets. Over his two games against them in 2017 and 2018, Ngakoue picked up three sacks and 14 pressures, with a whopping total of seven in each game. When the Jets headed to Duval County in 2018, Ngakoue had a field day rushing against Brandon Shell.

Weakness: Tackling

The Jaguars have missed 60 tackles, second-most behind only the Chargers (63). Their average of 8.6 missed tackles per game trails only the Browns (8.8) and Chargers (9.0).

The poor tackling has been a team-wide issue. The aforementioned three stud pass rushers have missed a combined total of 13 tackles. Campbell has been tagged with five misses, while Allen and Ngakoue have been hit with four apiece.

However, the top culprit has been a rookie ⁠— linebacker Quincy Williams, brother of Quinnen. He leads the team with 10 tackles, fourth-most in the league despite missing a game. Fellow linebacker Najee Goode has five missed tackles in slightly over half the playing time as Williams (173 vs. 334).

Cornerback Tre Herndon is among the leaders at his position with five misses, those coming in just five starts.

Against this defense, Le’Veon Bell should have a lot of opportunities to add some more juice to his highlight reel ⁠— and more importantly, keep the Jets moving forward in spite of their putrid offensive line.

Special Teams tidbit: Josh Lambo, Logan Cooke making cases for Pro Bowl

Josh Lambo is having another phenomenal season for the Jaguars. He leads the league with 18 made field goals, and he’s done it without missing a single attempt. In addition, he’s a perfect 10 for 10 on extra points. He is now 56 for 59 on field goals over three seasons in Jacksonville. That’s 94.9 percent, best among qualified kickers over that span.

Keep an eye out for a slight dip in field goal percentage for Lambo once he is asked to execute some more deep kicks. He has yet to attempt a 50-plus yard try, and his average attempt distance of 32.9 yards is the second-closest in the league (behind only Zane Gonzalez).

Punter Logan Cooke has been excellent as well. He is tied for second in forced fair catches (14) and ranks fourth in net punting average (44.1 yards). With much thanks to Cooke, the Jaguars have the league’s best punting DVOA.

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