The Jacksonville Jaguars entered the 2023 season with high expectations. It's fair to say they haven't lived up to them following their loss to the Houston Texans, the second one in as many weeks. The Jags were, on paper, the better team but one look at the 37-17 score shows that wasn't the case. Simply, they were outmatched by the Texans and that's reflected in the grade John Breech of CBS Sports assigned them.
Breech graded all NFL teams following Week 3 and gave Jacksonville a D-. Even though Breech points out that they struggled in all three phases, he highlights the blunders the Jags had on special teams.
"The worst performance might have come from a Jaguars special teams unit that allowed a block field goal AND a kickoff return for a touchdown. Not to mention, Brandon McManus also missed a field goal. "
Breech goes on to say that the Jaguars ended with more than 400 yards of total offense but only 17 points to show for it. He concludes by saying that the race for the AFC South might be tighter than originally thought.
The Jags were coming off a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 while the Texans had yet to win a game. The fact that Houston was without left tackle Laremy Tunsil, linebacker Denzel Perryman, and safety Jalen Pitre among others made it seem lopsided. However, Houston, led by rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, showed up at EverBank Stadium and proved they weren't phased by their AFC South foe. It wasn't a fluke either.
From the get-go, Houston set the tone and once they got the lead, they never looked back. For a moment in the third quarter, it looked like the Jags were going to mount a comeback but the Texans put it down when fullback Andrew Beck took an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Jaguars have lots to prove following the loss to the Texans in Week 3
Three weeks into the 2023 season, there's no clearcut favorite to win the AFC South. Before beating the Jags, the Texans were 0-2. Similarly, the Titans' lone win of the season is sandwiched between two embarrassing losses. The Indianapolis Colts, for their part, managed to beat the Baltimore Ravens after two consecutive losses. Simply, there currently isn't anyone in the division that stands out. That wasn't supposed to be the case though.
The Jaguars have more talent than their division rivals and further in their rebuild. Meanwhile, the Colts and Houston are undergoing an acclimation period with rookie head coaches at the helm. The Titans, on the other hand, had an aging roster and lost seven consecutive games to end the 2022 season. For that reason, it was easy to see Jacksonville getting off to a hot start but they haven't been able to capitalize on the weak state of the AFC South.
The good news is that the Jaguars have ample time to get out of the funk. However, they must take decisive action and fix whatever's not working, whether it's coaching or execution. They can start by looking at everything that went wrong against the Texans, including their special teams, and make the necessary corrections. The longer they wait, the more they'll struggle to keep up with the top teams in the AFC.