Jaguars decision to play starters vs. Texans in Week 17 is the right one

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) at Nissan Stadium. (Imagn Images photo pool)
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) at Nissan Stadium. (Imagn Images photo pool) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars could lose to the Houston Texans in Week 17 and still make the playoffs as long as they beat the Tennessee Titans in the season finale. This prompted observers to wonder if the Jags should rest their starters against the Texans. Head coach Doug Pederson met with the local media Wednesday and say that won’t be the case.

“It’s never a meaningless game, never ever, ever”, Pederson said.  “You play to win every game. The only way I rest players is if they’re hurt and can’t go”.

Similarly, Pederson isn’t taking Houston lightly and notes that their division rivals have been playing as of late.

“I’ve got to make sure our guys are in the right mind space this week and ready for this football team because you put the state, what they’ve done here in the last month, they’re playing pretty good even though they’ve lost a couple closed one”.

Although the Texans went 1-2 in the last three games, they came close to beating both the Dallas Cowboys and later the Kansas City Chiefs in Weeks 14 and 15, respectively. Similarly, they just beat the Tennesse Titans, so Pederson is right not to underestimate their division foe.

During his exchange with the media, Pederson also said rookie outside linebacker Travon Walker is close to returning, so if he’s good to go, he’ll play in Week 17. Here’s a clip of Pederson sharing his reasoning.

The Jaguars are right not to rest their starters vs. the Texans

The Jags could easily sit their starters ahead of Week 17 and nobody would hold it against them. Heck, the Tennessee Titans are going to most likely rest running back Derrick Henry, who is listed as doubtful for the Cowboys. All things considered, the Titans are making the right call. They’re currently riding a five-game losing streak and will need all hands on deck if they want to beat Jacksonville.

Having said that, the Jaguars are also taking the right approach. They want to build momentum toward the end of the season, which is why having players sitting out might not be the best course of action. Sure, they’ll be exposed to injuries but that’s the nature of the game. You can’t just place them in a bubble and save them for a later time.

That’s like resting your starters early in the season to keep them fresh for December. Simply, players know the inherent risk that comes with playing and they’re willing to take it. You can’t just ask them not to compete, that’s not how they’re wired.

The Jaguars wouldn’t be where they are if they had taken that conservative approach. They know that whether they beat the Texans, the Titans are one hurdle they must overcome to qualify for the postseason. For the time being, it will be business as usual when they travel to Houston.

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