To everyone’s surprise, the Jacksonville Jaguars completely dominated the Houston Texans on Sunday, to the tune of 29-7. To be perfectly honest, the beat down was far more than the score line shows as the Jaguars were forced to settle for a few field goals and even missed one. Even if you thought Jaguars would win, I don’t believe anyone thought they’d win like that. With that win though, the Jaguars catapulted themselves to the top of the division, thanks to the help of both the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts losing.
The Jaguars are in sole possession of the AFC South at this moment and can further their lead Sunday as they welcome the Titans to EverBank Field.
I’ve continuously said things like “The Jaguars are bad until they aren’t” and “I’ll believe it when I see it”, but I guess you could call this a mea culpa of sorts and it’s only one game; The Jacksonville Jaguars sucked me back in on Sunday. It wasn’t just because they won in dominant fashion. It wasn’t because they had 10 sacks. It wasn’t because they blew out a team I thought would beat them.
I wanted to write about this for Monday morning, but as it stands right now I’m still without power thanks to Hurricane Irma and lack of places with working internet, I’m writing it now. But, as silly as it sounds the Jaguars first drive in the third quarter completely flipped my faith in the team this season.
The Texans made the switch to rookie Deshaun Watson at halftime, which isn’t surprising considering the beating that Tom Savage was taking at the hands of the Jaguars defensive line. Watson, of course, immediately gave the Texans a spark thanks to his mobility and escaping pressure. He was helped with a couple of penalties, one on Yannick Ngakoue that was totally bogus, but nonetheless he took the team down on an opening touchdown drive making it 19-7.
I don’t care how much faith in the team you have, or how much of an optimist you are, but every single Jaguars fan at that moment got a feeling in the pit of their stomach. It was an “Oh no” feeling. They’re doing it again feeling. How many times have we seen the Jaguars start hot, then some sudden momentum change happens and they completely wilt in the face of pressure? Enough to make you think it was going to happen again. Everyone remembers the game against the Philadelphia Eagles a few years ago, or even the Texans last year when Savage replaced Brock Osweiler. The Jaguars were one of those teams who had found ways to lose and everyone let that thought slip in their head as soon as DeAndre Hopkins made that catch.
But, they didn’t.
Blake Bortles, with the help of running back rookie Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory, marched right down the field on a 10-play, 75 yard touchdown drive to answer. Bortles didn’t do anything spectacular, but he didn’t need to. Bortles completed four of five passes for 38 yards and a touchdown pass, including a critical 13-yard completion on third down.
As soon as the team scored, I knew it was game over. You can laugh and point to that making it a 19-point lead if you want, but regardless of the score that answer to the Texans fast start in the second half carries a lot of weight for me.
The last four seasons the team has collapsed in situations like that. They’ve just completely shut down and given up the lead eventually. On Sunday however, they didn’t waiver. They didn’t seem effected by the second half answer by Houston and just continued to totally dominate the Texans on the lines of scrimmage. The immediate answer was something we haven’t seen from a Jaguars team in a long, long time.
Sure, Houston looks like a total garbage pile, especially offensively, but that doesn’t matter. Jacksonville in the past has collapsed even against those teams. Remember losing to the Matt Hasslebeck Colts? The Brian Hoyer Texans? The Tom Savage Texans? It was the Jaguars modus operandi; They were mentally weak and would totally collapse in the face of adversity.
On Sunday the Jaguars take on the Titans, a team they beat last season even before Marcus Mariota went out of the game, and a team that lost to an Oakland Raiders team making the east coast roadie for an early game. The AFC South looks like it is in shambles right now and the Jaguars can place themselves firmly on top of that heap with a win against the Titans on Sunday.
I’m not ready to declare the Jaguars to be a 12-4 powerhouse just yet, but I am coming off my 6-10 prediction and declaring the Jaguars the favorites to win the AFC South.
That’s right, the Jaguars are winning the AFC South. Why not?
It’s up for grabs.