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Analyzing Tendencies: Stopping the Texans

Yesterday I talked about how the Jaguars have to go about scoring on Houston's defense. That was the easy part. Stopping the 5th ranked Texans offense has to be the top priority for the Jaguars on Sunday. With offensive superstars Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, that's easier said than done. Especially for a Jaguars defense that gives up more yards per play than any team in the NFL.

Football Outsiders tells us that the 5th place ranking that the stats show isn't a very accurate in describing the Texan offense. They're actually better. FO has them as the 2nd best offense in the NFL just behind the Patriots.

Last year the Texans finished as the league's 11th best offense on FO. They were carried by their 8th ranked passing offense to counteract their 31st best rushing offense. This year it's completely the opposite, with their 1st ranked rushing game pulling along their 11th ranked passing game. Most of the credit for the turn around obviously has to go to 2nd year RB, Arian Foster, who is leading the NFL in almost every relevant category for running backs.

Statistically, the Texans are the best at running right up the middle and blasting defensive tackles off the ball. Terrence Knighton and Tyson Alualu will be key to slopping down Foster. However, the Texans run off the right side more than twice the average team does, so whoever starts at left end is going to have a test for themselves. Perhaps this will be the week Derrick Harvey has his best shot at redemption.

Stopping Foster, or at least slowing him down, is going to be important if the Jaguars want to win the time of possession battle and prevent the game from turning into a shootout, scoring duel.

Arian Foster Carries Yards Touchdowns Receptions Yards Touchdowns
In 4 Victories 87 504 6 13 158 1
In 4 Losses 70 360 3 19 157 0


At quarterback the Texans are led by Pro Bowl MVP, Matt Schaub. While he isn't having a terrible season, Matt Schaub's numbers are clearly off what they have been since he joined the Texans in 2007. In 2007, 2008 and 2009 his completion percentages were 66.4, 66.1 and 67.9, respectively. At 63.7% so far in 2010, his numbers aren't bad, but they're not quite at the caliber of the season he had in 2009 that saw him finish with a 98.6 QB rating.

A large amount of the blame has to go on an offensive line that has allowed 21 sacks so far in 2010. In 2009, Schaub was sacked 25 times. The Texans are pacing to give up 17 sacks more than that in 2010. Putting as much pressure as possible on the Texans, with or without Aaron Kampman and Tyson Alualu, will be key to try to force mistakes. Because when Schaub is on his game, he's really on his game, sometimes regardless if the pressure is there or not. Just ask the Redskins who were torched for 497 yards and 3 touchdowns despite sacking Schaub 5 times.

On special teams the Jaguars have a large advantage. The Texans rank 25th in kick return average and 24th in punt return average. Their kickoff coverage unit is ranked 12th while their punt coverage unit is ranked 22nd. The Jaguars rank significantly higher in each one of the categories. What they do have going for them is that, like the Jaguars, they have yet to allow a return touchdown.