The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off a 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals at home. While there is no such thing as a good loss, for a young 1-9 Jaguars squad that has been blown out at home two weeks straight by the Chargers (24-6) and by the 49ers (in London; 42-10) before beating the Titans 29-27 in Nashville, this loss in comparison isn’t nearly as ugly.
Bradley said that he believed his team battled. I have to agree. If not for a huge 91 yard TD to Michael Floyd in the 3rd quarter, the outcome of last Sunday’s game probably would have been much closer. The defense has done a great job stopping the run the last two weeks, keeping Chris Johnson to 30 yards rushing and two fumbles, and holding Rashard Mendenhall to 14 yards rushing and a cheap TD.
The offense still has many, many issues which eventually killed any momentum the Jaguars may have had, but overall I think the Jaguars are making progress and have yet another opportunity this Sunday to continue that progress.
The Jags have only faced two teams with losing records this season: the Oakland Raiders and the St. Louis Rams. The Chargers are 4-6 right now, but they were on a little bit of a roll when they came to Everbank and mopped the floor with the home team 24-6 in week 7. This week the Jaguars face a 2-8 Texans squad that is honestly much better than their record suggests. However, in the NFL you are what your record says you are, and the Texans’ record says they are only one game better than Jacksonville. With that being said, there is still a lot of talent on this Texans squad.
This rookie secondary faces yet another steep challenge as they will be charged with the task of covering Andre Johnson. Johnson has been going strong for 10 years in the league now, and is one of the absolute best in the business. Even as a 10 year veteran, Johnson has 72 receptions for 966 yards and 5 TDs on the year. The Texans offense is producing 257.7 pass yards per game, and it hasn’t mattered if it’s been Keenum or Schaub under center. 257.7 pass yards per game is good for 8th in the league, and Johnson is the main reason for that.
Carson Palmer went bonkers on this Jaguars secondary last week, throwing for over 400 yards and 3 scores. Larry Fitzgerald had 61 rec yards and a TD. Michael Floyd had 193 yards and a TD. While the Jags defense was able to sack Palmer 3 times, the secondary failed to take away Palmer’s weapons. The Jaguars defense will now face Case Keenum. Keenum was one of the most prolific passers in college ball while at Houston, but didn’t quite fit the physical mold of a NFL QB which resulted in him going undrafted in 2012. Since Keenum replaced Schaub, the former Houston product has completed 70 of 126 passes for 992 yards, 8 TDs and 1 INT. As impressive as that is for the young QB, I can’t help but give a lot of the credit to Andre Johnson. Taking away Andre Johnson is imperative. The Jaguars defense must learn how to neutralize opponents’ weapons, not only on the ground, but through the air as well. Of course this is much easier said than done, especially against the likes of Andre Johnson…
Paul Posluszny, hopefully, will return this week after sustaining a concussion against the Titans 2 weeks ago. While Russell Allen and John Lotulelei stepped in and performed admirably, they did allow Rob Housler to snag 6 passes for 70 yards. This week they will be facing Garrett Graham who had the best game of his career last Sunday, catching 7 passes for 136 yards and a TD. In order to keep Graham in check, it is crucial Poz returns this Sunday.
Let’s take a look at the other side of the ball now.
In today’s NFL, you can only play so much defense before the offense exploits your weaknesses. You have to be able to keep up with your opponents in this day and age. The grind it out, keep it close kind of ball is becoming more and more a thing of the past. The Jaguars played well enough on defense last week to keep their offense in the game, but when your offense isn’t clicking it doesn’t matter how well your defense is playing.
The Jaguars offense really isn’t able to consistently attack and threaten anyone. We talk about it every week. The line isn’t opening up any holes for the running backs. The receivers aren’t getting separation. The receivers can’t stretch the field. The quarterback can’t get anyone the ball. It really is the same thing every week.
After facing an elite defensive unit against Arizona, the going doesn’t get any smoother as the Jaguars must deal with J.J. Watt and this Texans D. While this year’s unit isn’t exactly what it was last year, J.J. Watt still plays for this team. And J.J. Watt is a beast. On the season Watt has 38 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 10 TFLs, 4 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumbles recoveries and a blocked kick. That is a ridiculous stat line. Watt is a one man wrecking crew, capable of wreaking complete havoc at the line of scrimmage. This Jaguars offensive line is going to have their hands full all day long dealing with this guy.
The Texans are 2-8, but have lost the last four games by a total of 12 points. Just glancing at the records though, these two teams are only different one game. Because it is a divisional game and because these are two teams having abysmal seasons, I do see the Jaguars staying in this one and maybe just maybe notching another win. What must they do? They must continue to build on the progress from the last two weeks, but overall? They simply must play better football, stop the explosive plays, and avoid the dumb mistakes.
-David R. Johns