5 Storylines to Watch: Texans vs. Jaguars
When the Jacksonville Jaguars face the Houston Texans on Sunday, they have plenty of questions to answer about which team will show up at TIAA Bank Field.
The past two weeks have been tough for the Jacksonville Jaguars — to say the least. Blowout losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys have many questioning the ability of the team moving forward, especially with the uncertainty of RB Leonard Fournette.
This week, the Jaguars look to bounce back against the Houston Texans in an important AFC South matchup. Fans of the Black and Teal should watch for these storylines to unfold at TIAA Bank Field.
Carlos Hyde Dons the Teal and Black
On Friday, the Jaguars traded for RB Carlos Hyde, formerly of the Cleveland Browns. The Jaguars gave up a fifth-round pick for Hyde, a good deal considering the lack of offense generated the past couple of weeks.
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Hyde immediately forces opposing defenses to respect the Jaguars’ running attack, with T.J. Yeldon still posing as a dual-threat. Hyde will also be a good passer protector for QB Blake Bortles, as he ranked seventh in pass blocking efficiency for RBs in 2017 — according to Pro Football Focus.
Getting the ground game working is crucial for Bortles and the rest of the Jaguars’ offense.
Can the Defense Bounce Back?
After only allowing 47 points in the month of September, the Jaguars’ vaunted defense has surrendered 70 points in the first two games of October.
Those dismantlings have come at the hands of scrambling QBs, and this week the Jaguars will go against Deshaun Watson. While Watson is hurt (chest), the young QB will be sure to cause some fits for the Jaguars’ defense.
Whether or not the Jaguars’ defense will rebound against their division rival remains to be seen, but for a defense that is highly respected both in the media and among themselves, the defensive talent alone should provide optimism for skeptics.
Jalen Ramsey vs. DeAndre Hopkins
In their two games against each other in 2017, Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins accounted for 11 catches for 135 yards and a score (came while Jaguars were up 31-0 in week 15).
Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey has been on the bad side of media and fans ever since their back-to-back losses. A lockdown game against one of the best receivers in the NFL should help mend those wounds.
Hopkins plays a pivotal role in the Texans’ offense and taking him out of the game will make life easier for a defense in need of a confidence boost.
Will the Real Blake Bortles Please Stand Up
The Jaguars’ offense has been an up-and-down roller coaster since the start of the season. While offensive struggles the past two weeks can fall on the absence of RB Leonard Fournette and offensive line wrinkles,
it ultimately falls on Blake Bortles, who has failed to bring a consistent offensive attack. In arguably the best stretch of his career, Bortles torched the Texans the last time they played in week 15 of last season, going for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
Bortles doesn’t need to have a game as good as that, but he must provide opportunities for his receivers and be consistent.
It’s Time to Get Back on Track
It’s been a tough two games for the Jacksonville Jaguars, filled with the lackluster play — to say the least — and scrutiny.
Coming back home should be a sigh of relief for a team that is in desperate need to get back in the win column. Already 0-1 in the division, this week’s game is a must win.
There is a lot to prove for the Jaguars (what’s new?), but it’s time to get back on track and HC Doug Marrone should have the team ready.