The Jaguars are terrible on the defensive side of the ball. Believe it or not, the Texans are statistically worse. They rank 32nd in the league in yards allowed, giving up 399.5 yards a game. The Jaguars will obviously need to take advantage of the Houston weakness and put as many points on the board as possible, while also using as much clock as possible so as to prevent the likes of Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson from doing the same.Football Outsiders actually ranks Houston as the second worst defense in the league after factoring in level of competition, ranking them just a hair higher than the Buffalo Bills. The Texans rank 31st in passing defense and 20th in rushing defense.
What the stats tell us about their pass defense is that they have seen major struggles from their rookie cornerback Kareem Jackson. Glover Quin hasn't been playing particularly well himself, but #1 receivers haven't found the same success against the Houston defense that #2 receivers have. Against the #1 WR on the opposing team, the Texans rank 23rd in the league. Against #2 WRs, they rank 31st. ProFootballFocus tells us that Kareem Jackson was particularly bad last week against the high powered Chargers offense:
"Corner Kareem Jackson was particularly poor, especially in coverage, where he allowed six of the seven passes thrown at him to be complete for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Only an interception saved him from a wretched day."
Jaguar fans are very aware of what confidence can mean for a player, particularly a cornerback, having witnessed the rise, fall and rise again of Derek Cox. Whoever is lined up against Jackson will need to take advantage of his recent struggles and get open for David Garrard.
Another player who will need to have an impact for Garrard is Marcedes Lewis. The Texans rank 31st in the league at covering tight ends. With the leader of the middle of the defense, Demeco Ryans, out, the Texans have struggled to find linebackers that can match up with tight ends. Even with matchup nightmare, Antonio Gates, out the Texans allowed two touchdowns to San Diego backup tight end, Randy McMichael.
When people think of the Texans defensive line, they immediately think of former 1st overall pick and sack machine, Mario Williams. Not talked about enough is the play of left defensive end, Antonio Smith. While Williams has 5.5 sacks on his side, Smith has added 3 sacks of his own, but it is his play against the run that makes him so valuable. The Texans rank 20th in the league on FO at stopping the run, but don't blame that on Smith. Houston ranks 2nd in the league at stopping RBs running behind their right tackles, allowing only 2.51 yards per carry. Behind the left tackle, running backs have been able to accumulate 4.33 yards per rush, ranking 16th in the league.
Luckily for the Jaguars, the biggest weakness in the Houston run defense is right up the gut. The Texans rank 28th in the league at stopping runs between the guards. Seeing as the Jaguars are a team that statistically runs the ball up the middle 70% of the time, it's easy to see how this bodes well for them. Especially with run blocker Vince Manuwai back in the lineup, expect to see a lot of MJD right up the middle.
Scoring against the Texans wouldn't appear to be a huge challenge. Limiting mistakes against a pass rush that can be dangerous is going to be key for a Jaguars team that ranks among the worst in the league with a -7 turnover ratio.