What’s Next – Taking The Division (Part III)
By Luke Sims
Welcome to the last installment of Taking the Division, a feature on the weekly What’s Next. Last week we took a look at how the Colts will finally fall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, two weeks ago we looked at how the Tennessee Titans will also fall beneath the power of the Jags. This week, we’ll be looking at how Matt Schaub and co over in Houston will valiantly try to overthrow the Jags in their battle red uniforms, but will ultimately fail.
Follow the jump to find out how the Jacksonville Jaguars take the division!
Much like the Jags, the Texans have never won an AFC South crown. But, unlike the Jags, the Texans have continually struggled out of the starting block since their expansion. While the Texans have consistently been an offensive force in recent years, the failure to achieve a winning season is telling and has enabled other teams to find numerous problems with the Texans and exploit them year after year. This year, however, the Texans are appearing to be legitimate. Despite defensive woes (never seemed to stop the Colts), the Texans still manage to main competitive through offensive play. While Andre Johnson and his 10,000 yards and Arian Foster and his rushing title are impressive, the Jaguars can still win. Fortunately for the Jags (are you reading Jack Del Rio?) and for us loyal fans, Black and Teal has the answer on how to stop the Texans powerful offense and how to beat Houston in order to take the division.
1) The Jaguars need to limit the Texans passing game. This is generally pretty tough. The Texans feature Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones, Kevin Walter, and a giften tight end in Owen Daniels. While you can pretty much rely on them all to gain yards (all of them have 10+ yards per reception averages), you can clamp down on their abilities through good coverage. GM Gene and JDR can tell us day in and day out that our rushing attack will dominate offenses by disrupting the quarterback. While it is hopeful to believe that, it is often too difficult to always dominate defensive lines, and Matt Schaub is too good of a quarterback with too good of receiving options. It will come down to our corners and safeties. Mainly our corners. Derek Cox, Rashean Mathis, and whoever gets that nickel spot will have to play tighter coverage in order for the Jaguars to limit the passing game. And with that passing game limited, there will be one other thing to stop the Texans on defense.
2) Stop Arian Foster. If we manage to limit Arian Foster, there is no way the Texans come out on top. For the first time in a long time, the Texans have a running back with some wheels, and behind him they have……? Oh yeah, Steve Slaton. Easily manageable. While the Houston front office wants to limits Foster’s carries this coming year (327 in 2010), the Texans don’t have a good spell back to help him out. When you start to stop the run (I’m looking at you TnT and Harvey/Mincey/Hart), the Texans will either try a change of pace or shift to the pass. If our defense actually manages to present a good secondary to the Texans, then change of pace back becomes the best option. And the Texans don’t have anybody worth considerable thought. While free agency (God bless it) is just around the corner, I can’t see Houston landing anybody good enough to truly develop into a remotely impressive semblance of a two-headed monster. So, how do we stop Arian Foster? By clamping down on the defensive line and through good linebacker play. The linebackers in our 4-3 need to understand their responsibilities better. No matter how many tackles Morrison and Smith rack up, it will never be enough if Foster keeps getting 4.9 yards per carry (2010 average). Furthermore, the left defensive end needs to play better stopping the run. I’ve heard mention recently that Harvey has been playing good run defense the last couple of years. I call BS. Harvey’s 11 tackles in 15 games (7 starts) is horrendous. The best option for the Jaguars against the Texans is Jeremy Mincey. The man played great at the end of last season and has momentum heading into 2011 (25 tackles in 15 games) and has turned himself into a threat on passing downs (five sacks, mostly at the end of the season), and good at maintaining the outside against the run. Bringing Mincey back and putting our trust in him, will be rewarded.
3) Pass the ball. The Texans know we have Maurice Jones-Drew. The Texans know we have David Garrard, who many have described as “serviceable” in recent weeks. While the receiving corps of the Jaguars isn’t exactly astounding, it is above average. If they can stay healthy I think they can do great things (yes, I am talking about them without picking up a true number one receiver). There is no longer a Troy Williamson playing for the Jags, nobody to run out and let a ball slip through his open arms. Instead we have solid players that can jump and get themselves in a position to make plays. The Texans defensive backs are…adequate at best and can’t be relied on to stop the pass. If you put the ball in the hands of David Garrard, I can guarantee a win. Remember when Mike Holmgren game out and said he was going to pass with Matt Hasselbeck and then did for the first eight plays of the game? Yeah, we can do that. Houston is expecting the run. Are they expecting the pass?
While most of the above sounds just like wishful thinking about a squad that has done nothing but proven that they are average in defense and ok at passing, I think that the Jaguars are going to be able to pull this off. When you think more about Houston transitioning to the 3-4 without any time with a playbook, it makes a little more sense. Just go with it. Relax. Enjoy the ride. And watch the Jag’s take home that sweet sweet AFC South Title.
– Luke N. Sims