The Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans are kicking off their 2017 regular seasons on Sunday at 1:00pm EST — and to get us ready for the game we sat down with Brett Kollman over at BattleRedBlog.com.
Know thy enemy.
1. Why isn't Deshaun Watson starting? What has Tom Savage done this preseason to prove you shouldn't just start your first round quarterback from Week 1?
Watson was extremely inconsistent throughout the preseason, and it became clear very early on that he is nowhere near ready to start. Tom Savage is not what I would consider a "good" quarterback, but at the moment he seems to at least be able to hold the fort as an average one. The ideal scenario for the team right now is that Watson is able to sit and develop for the entire season while Savage's averageness guides a loaded Texans roster to the playoffs. If Watson is forced to start at some point, I fear that his rampant accuracy and decision making issues from the preseason could rear their ugly heads in the games that actually count. He's got incredible natural talent, but he's just simply not ready yet.
2. What are your thoughts on how general manager Rick Smith has built this team? Were you surprised you (finally) went for a quarterback?
The Texans have been much more aggressive in their pursuit of finding "the guy" at quarterback the last two years. First they threw big money at Brock Osweiler in an attempt to solve the problem, and when that didn't work out they cut their losses immediately and gave up even more assets to bring in Watson. Whether or not all of their decisions have worked out, I am at least pleased that the organization is trying to address their shortcomings rather than remaining too passive and letting season after season slip by without making any changes (cough cough Gary Kubiak).
The Texans have a roster that is ready to compete for a Super Bowl — and it has arguably been that way for the last six seasons — but each and every year the man under center always let the rest of the team down. If Watson can finally be the one to break that trend, all of the heartache that led to his arrival will be worth it.
3. What is the perception in Houston of our quarterback situation? Are you a little more optimistic that Blake Bortles can turn it around than Jacksonville is?
We pretty much see Blake Bortles the same way you do — he's not the answer. If the Jaguars end up with a top-five pick again next year (which may or may not happen, considering how talented the rest of the team is) I cannot see any scenario where they do not replace Bortles with another first round quarterback. If the Texans can cut their losses after only one season of Osweiler, surely the Jaguars can come to the same realization after four seasons of Bortles, right?
4. Is there a Jaguars player on the offensive side of the ball that you'd say, "If the Texans don't stop him, we're in trouble"?
Allen Robinson, of course. He's arguably the most talented receiver in the division - DeAndre Hopkins included — but his quarterback play has always been so inconsistent that he's rarely been able to show it. If Bortles is able to make a few well-placed throws downfield (for once), Robinson's size and speed could prove to be a nightmare on deep balls.
5. What's gonna happen on Sunday? Will the Jaguars lose (again)? Will they keep it close? Is there any chance of an upset by Blake Bortles?
J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus are all on the field and fully healthy together for the first time ever. The city of Houston has waited four long years to see this group tee off on quarterbacks with no limitations, and now this Sunday we are finally going to get just that. If you thought offensive lines had trouble blocking this defensive front before, it's about to get a whole lot worse.
Even if the quarterback for the Jaguars was Tom Brady himself, I don't think there is any way that Jacksonville's current offensive line could keep him upright long enough to make a difference. The Texans probably won't score a lot of points, but the Jaguars sure as hell won't either. Texans win 9-6.