Jacksonville Jaguars: Looking Back On Houston and The Importance of Week 2

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Yannick Ngakoue
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Yannick Ngakoue /
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The Jaguars have finally won a season opener for the first time in six years. Now with the big win behind, let’s look at what worked for the team and where the team needs to be Sunday.

HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 10: Leonard Fournette
HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 10: Leonard Fournette /

Smash Mouth Offense

The Jaguars have entered a new era of offense by taking a successful game plan of the past and establishing it into the “Pass Era” of modern day football. This past Sunday the offense displayed their ability to lean on rookie running back Leonard Fournette as their new foreground. The days of Blake Bortles slinging the ball forty times a game due to the lack of a run game seem to be in the rearview mirror as Bortles had his second lowest pass total in his career. When Bortles was not throwing the ball he was feeding Fournette who opened his rookie premiere with 100 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Last season the Jaguars only had two 100 yards rushing games and here heading into week 2 the Jaguars already sit with one. Houston’s defense is not one to take lightly as they finished twelfth last year as a unit against the run, this was accomplished without former three time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt all season.

Looking at how the offense played it seems that the new strategy is run the ball and let Bortles thrive in the role as a game manager. Fournette and Chris Ivory combined for just under 150 yards with a dominant running attack. The rookie running back showed his speed and strength as he ran over defenders throughout the day. Ivory showed off his abilities that Jacksonville expected him to bring last season, but never actually surfaced. This new ground and pound approached worked very well and leaves hope that it will continue to do so. Bortles finished with 125 yards and a touchdown while managing to not turn the ball over. A big blow to the team was losing wide receiver Allen Robinson after his first catch with an apparent ACL tear. Without the leading wide out for the Jaguars the last two seasons, Allen Hurns finished the stat line as the leading receiver Sunday. The offensive line looked great as they man handled Houston’s defensive front all game. The biggest win for the unit was not allowing a sack all game.

Potential Finally Becomes Reality On Defense

HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 10: Tom Savage /

Defensively the big highlight was newly added defensive end Calais Campbell as he made quite the debut in black and teal. By halftime he had 3.5 sacks which broke the Jaguars record for sacks in a single game, he’d finish with 4. Second year defensive end Yannick Ngakoue once again proved he is a force on the field as he forced 2 fumbles and totaled 2 sacks. Ngakoue was probably the next best player on the field outside of Campbell Sunday as he continuously found his way around the ball and abused the left tackle all game. Dante Fowler showed out after some “bust” comments floated around last season and this offseason. Fowler was quick at the snap and his two most notable plays coming from a fumble return for a touchdown and a tackle in the backfield on a handoff that showcased his speed and play recognition. He also forced a fumble on the quarterback early into the game. The team overall totaled double digits in sacks with Campbell’s 4, Ngakoue’s 2, Fowler’s 1, defensive tackle Malik Jackson’s 1, defensive tackle Arby Jones had 1, and linebacker Lerentee McCray finshed with 1.5.

HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 10: Deshaun Watson
HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 10: Deshaun Watson /

The Jaguars’ linebackers played well as well with Myles Jack excelling in his role as middle linebacker. Jack led the team in tackles with 14 (8 being solo tackles) and an interception that was called back due to a questionable roughing the passer penalty on Ngakoue. Telvin Smith and Paul Posluszny both had quiet days since the defensive line did most of the work as they only managed 2 tackles a piece. Smith did make a nice play on the ball in the second quarter with what would of been a scoop and score on a fumble until it was reversed. Cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and second year pro Jalen Ramsey defended the ball very well. Both corners had their chance defending Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins and on most occasions came out on top against him. Ramsey nearly had an interception early in the game but after making contact with safety Barry Chruch, who also attempted the interception, the ball was jarred loose.