Jernigan Enjoying a Breakthrough Season Photo Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Tale of the Tape Jernigan Enjoying a Breakthrough Season

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Defensive Lineman Steps up in 2016

Part of the reason for the struggles of the 2015 Baltimore Ravens was the decline in play for many players relative to their 2014 performance.

There were many examples, and one not free of criticism was defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan, who did not struggle per se, but he certainly was not the player he was as a rookie.

Luckily for the Ravens, Jernigan’s 2015 performance seems to be a classic sophomore slump and nothing more, as in year three, Jernigan is emerging as one of the more disruptive young defensive linemen in the NFL.

Having already notched three sacks this season, Jernigan has been a force against the pass, getting to the quarterback and regularly collapsing the pocket. With a good-not-great edge-rushing unit, the reason for Baltimore’s success in getting to the quarterback is directly tied to the interior pressure, with Jernigan leading the pack.

Let’s take a look at Jernigan’s success so far this season, and why he is one of the defense’s biggest assets.

Both against the run and the pass, Jernigan has proved himself as a type of player who always keeps his eye on the ball and plays through the whistle.

Jernigan relentlessly pursues the ball carrier, something that has not been seen in Baltimore since Haloti Ngata was a regular on defense.

Here, Jernigan takes on two blockers off the snap, but keeps an eye on the ball carrier in the backfield.

Jernigan Enjoying a Breakthrough Season

He sheds the first block, and works off the blocker to his right as the running back receives the handoff.

Jernigan Enjoying a Breakthrough Season

Jernigan disengages and takes the proper angle to meet Jacksonville Jaguars running back TJ Yeldon on the outside.

Jernigan Enjoying a Breakthrough Season

Despite Yeldon’s speed, Jernigan’s short-range quickness is more than enough to track the running back down before he breaks through the first line of defense.

Jernigan Enjoying a Breakthrough Season

Plays like these have been on display on a more consistent basis than in 2015 for Jernigan. Last season, he flashed here and there, but quite frankly was not overly prevalent in any particular games.

This season, Jernigan’s has been one of the team’s best players.

Against the pass is where Jernigan has truly made his mark, as his interior pass rush ability has been a treat to watch.

Against Cleveland, Jernigan initially gets caught in a pile-up in the middle.

Jernigan Enjoying a Breakthrough Season

He does not let this prevent him from making an impact in the play, as Jernigan continues to push through the blocks, eventually gaining sight of the quarterback.

Jernigan Enjoying a Breakthrough Season

He spins through the blocker, and is able to seal off a would-be run lane for the quarterback, finishing with the sack.

Jernigan Enjoying a Breakthrough Season

The 2016 Timmy Jernigan is shaping up to be what most of us thought he would look like last year. He has overcome the sophomore slump and has molded himself into one of the defense’s most fearsome commodities.

If Jernigan keeps up this stellar play throughout the 2016 season, it will not be unrealistic for him to end up in the discussion as one of the NFL’s premier young defensive linemen.

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Kyle Casey

About Kyle Casey

Kyle's love of football centers around analytics and the NFL Draft. He has held season tickets at M&T Bank Stadium since 2004, and currently resides in Section 243. A 2016 Mass Communications graduate of Towson University, Kyle now works in the IT staffing industry. He tries to find the balance between being rational and being a contrarian through writing. More from Kyle Casey

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