Checking in on the pass rushes

None of the defenses in the AFC South are going to turn blitz-crazy. But the numbers from ESPN Stats & Information say all four are faring better when they send five or more rushers than when they rush four or fewer.

First, the frequency, Kenneth: the Jaguars are blitzing 46.4 percent of the time, the Titans 31 percent, the Texans 28.6 percent and the Colts 16.8 percent.

Our four teams are in the top eight franchises in yards given up on standard pressure plays.

Here’s a team-by-team look comparing when they do standard and when they send extra(s):

Jacksonville is much better up front than a year ago. The Jaguars have 11 sacks through five games a year after 14 in a full season. Still, quarterbacks have a passer rating of 114.4 against them when four or fewer rush. It’s better, but not hugely so, for the league’s 29th-ranked pass defense when an extra rusher is involved. Passer ratings drop to 102.8. Remember, four of the five quarterbacks Jacksonville has faced have been excellent this year: Kyle Orton, Philip Rivers, Michael Vick and Peyton Manning.

Houston is not getting a good pass rush from its front four and opposing quarterbacks have a 110.1 passer rating against the Texans when they rush four or fewer. That’s 30th in the league for the 31st ranked defense. They are the only team in the league to have given up more than 100 completions and more than 1,000 passing yards in such situations (1,352) to go with eight touchdowns. The Texans probably feel they can’t afford to blitz with the coverage issues they are having. But when they add at least one extra player to chase the quarterback, his passer rating falls to 88.7. Houston’s also seen some good quarterbacks: Both Peyton and Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb and Tony Romo.

Indianapolis brings extra pressure far more often than it did back when Tony Dungy and Ron Meeks ran the defense, but still less than anyone else in the AFC South by a significant margin. Quarterbacks have a 92.0 passer rating against Indy when it rushes four or fewer, but the Colts have gotten all eight of their sacks without blitz help. The passer rating drops to 70.1 when they come with five or more rushers. They don’t have a sack off a blitz, but opponents complete a league-low 36 percent of their passes against it. They’ve played Matt Schaub, Eli Manning and Orton.

Tennessee generates great pressure with its front four alone, and that’s the Titans’ preference. Quarterbacks have an 81.9 passer rating against standard pressure and have been sacked a league-high 14 times by it. There isn’t much of a difference in passer performance when an extra rusher joins in (79.5). But the completion percentage drops by nearly eight points to 60.7. The Titans have played Eli Manning, Orton and Romo.