Thanks to the fine folks at Battle Red Blog for discussing the upcoming Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans game with us!
1. The Texans have a winning record and are tied for the AFC South lead... but they have a -45 point differential. What in the world?
We have no idea how to explain this. Seriously, we got nothing. I mean, we'll take the wins of course, but this is bizarre to say the least. The offense (outside of Lamar Miller) is completely inept, so really the only thing keeping the Texans alive right now is their J.J. Watt-less defense. Kevin Johnson (Houston's best corner) is also on injured reserve, and Jadeveon Clowney is not exactly 100 percent either. Hell, Johnathan Joseph (Houston's other boundary corner) missed last week's game against the Colts with a rib injury as well, and yet they still went out there and dominated Andrew Luck as a unit from start to finish. If Romeo Crennel is not in the running for assistant coach of the year, then this whole award is a farce. His scheming is literally the only thing holding this ball club together.
2. What are your thoughts on how general manager Rick Smith has built this team? From the outside looking in, the team looks good except for the most important position at quarterback. How do Texans fan feel about Brock Osweiler?
Smith has a reputation for knocking first round picks out of the park (the Texans are the only team in the NFL with every first rounder from the last nine seasons on their roster), but for every big hit he has a colossal miss to offset it. Every DeAndre Hopkins pick has an equal and opposite Sam Montgomery, and every Jadeveon Clowney pick has a Louis Nix. Hell, this is the same GM who let Glover Quin - one of the premiere young safety talents in the league at the time - walk to Detroit on a cheap contract just so that he could bring in the corpse of Ed Reed, who did not even last a full season here. The Texans are still trying to replace Quin years later, by the way. As awesome as ole' Slick Rick is on the first day of the draft, his maddening inconsistency in every other facet of GM'ing a professional football team has earned him a lot of justified criticism. Are there worse people building rosters in the NFL right now? Of course. Would I consider Smith to be in the upper echelon of GM's? Not a chance. He's squarely in the middle of the road, which seems to be enough to stay employed for now.
3. If you were the Jaguars coordinators, how would you game plan against either side of the ball for the Texans?
If I'm the Jaguars offensive coordinator, I just run it anywhere that Jadeveon Clowney is not lined up. Despite Clowney being an unbelievable force on early downs, he is still only one player out of eleven. The rest of the unit has struggled to keep running backs in check from time to time, though their interior run defense has improved a bit as the year has gone on. With this defense even more banged up than it was earlier in the season, there is a legitimate chance that we see Chris Ivory rip off some strong runs inside.
As for Jacksonville's defensive plans, just load the box to stop Lamar Miller and make Brock Osweiler beat you through the air. That's pretty much it. If you can stop the run game, you can stop this offense.
4. Is there a Jaguars player on either side of the ball that you say, "If the Texans don't stop him, we're in trouble"?
Probably Allen Robinson. He's had a very down year statistically as both Blake Bortles and the rest of the offense took a step back, but he's still easily one of the most physically imposing pass catchers in the NFL. The moment you discount his capabilities is the moment he goes for 9 catches, 107 yards, and a touchdown...oh wait, he already did do that against Houston this season in his only 100-yard outing of the year. He must really hate Bill O'Brien for passing on him in the draft or something.
5. What's gonna happen on Sunday? Will the Jaguars lose by multiple scores? Will they keep it close? Is there any chance of an upset?
It will probably be a close game as most AFC South contests tend to be, but I still do think that the Texans win this one. Jacksonville has more appreciable talent than Houston in my opinion, but Gus Bradley just can never figure out how to get the most out of them. For now, that lack of coaching acumen might be all the Texans need to get this win. Houston wins 20-16.