The Jacksonville Jaguars secured their first opening week victory since 2011 in convincing fashion over the Houston Texans 29-7. Here are five key takeaways from the game.
How fun was that? The Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t just beat the Houston Texans on Sunday, they dominated from start to finish. Now 1-0 and looking like they can raise some eyebrows, here are five key takeaways from the game that led to a Jacksonville win.
1. Leonard Fournette is the real deal
In his first official game with the Jaguars, Leonard Fournette quickly erased any doubt that he is a superstar in the making. Against Houston, the top ranked defense in total yards allowed in 2016, Fournette reached the 100-yard rushing mark and powered his way to his first career NFL touchdown.
Fournette displayed his bullish running style plowing through the Texans defense, while also showing his speed and athleticism catching passes out of the backfield.
If Sunday is any indication, the Jaguars have found their next great running back in Jacksonville.
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2. The Jaguars defense is nasty
After assembling pieces together to build a tough defensive unit in Jacksonville, the Jaguars may have created a monster. Sunday against the Texans was as dominating a defensive performance as the Jaguars have ever put together of a football field.
The Jacksonville defense racked up ten sacks total, and was in Houston’s backfield all afternoon. Calais Campbell had FOUR sacks on his own, a franchise record, while young guys Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler Jr. picked up two each. The Jaguars defensive line completely bullied the Texans offensive line from the opening whistle.
Along with the sacks, the Jaguars pressure caused turnovers as Jacksonville forced three fumbles by the two Houston quarterbacks. One of the turnovers, a strip sack by Yannick Ngakoue was scooped up and returned for a touchdown by Dante Fowler Jr., on the same drive that a carbon copy return touchdown was ruled as a forward pass and taken off the board.
Pair the dominant Jaguars pass rush with a secondary that shut down Houston’s passing game sans a few costly penalties, and this defense in Jacksonville is a unit that should strike fear in opposing teams.
3. The offensive line came up huge
The Jaguars offensive line was a question mark heading into the season, but the big guys up front showed up in a major way on Sunday. Faced with the task of taking on the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mecilus, the unit shut them down, not allowing a single sack by the vaunted Texans pass rush. The excellent protection kept Blake Bortles composed in the pocket by keeping him upright and giving him time to make plays.
The offensive line also created running lanes for Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory, helping Fournette reach 100 yards and a touchdown while Ivory picked up 42 yards on just nine carries.
4. Blake Bortles did what he needed to do
Blake Bortles wasn’t flashy on Sunday, but he didn’t have to be. With the Jaguars’ success with eating up yards with the running game, Bortles didn’t have to throw the ball all over the field.
What he did provide was efficiently managing the game by not forcing any bad decisions and making the throws he needed to make, including multiple completions on third down to keep the chains moving.
Blake Bortles didn’t light up the stat sheet by any means, but in this offense he showed what it takes from him to win the game.
5. Kicking game is a problem
It wasn’t all positives against Houston. Kicker Jason Myers has struggled with consistency during his tenure with the Jaguars, and on Sunday he didn’t help his own cause.
Myers left four points on the field by missing a 39-yard field goal and yet another extra point. The Jaguars performance was so dominant everywhere else that those points didn’t come into play in the end against the Texans, but in another game this season those points could cost the team a victory.
Either Jason Myers needs to find consistency quickly or the Jacksonville Jaguars need to bring in another guy, but points cannot be left on the table as the season rolls on.