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5 questions with Battle Red Blog: Have the Texans improved since the coaching change?

Houston Texans v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

A couple of 1-6 teams and AFC bottom-dwellers battle on Sunday, as the Houston Texans travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars. Of course, Houston’s lone win this season came against the Jags.

The Jaguars, following a bye week, will be starting rookie quarterback Jake Luton with Gardner Minshew II out with a hand injury.

To take a closer look at Houston, we reconnected with Jeremy Brenner of Battle Red Blog — SB Nation’s website for all things Texans.

1. The AFC South bottom feeders battle once again. Houston’s lone win this season came against Jacksonville. What do the Texans need to do on the road to get another win over the Jaguars?

Jeremy: They need to take advantage of the fact that Jake Luton is starting under center. Show no mercy. The team showed a sign of good faith to the players this week with owner Cal McNair saying the playoffs were still his goal for the season and neglecting to trade any assets despite having every reason to do so.

Now, do the Texans really have a shot at the playoffs? No, but the players hopefully don’t see it that way. Given that the Texans aren’t tanking for a higher pick, I’d like to see them be as competitive as possible in the second half of the season.

The Texans have every reason to win this game, so they need to simply execute and come through.

2. With Gardner Minshew expected to miss the game, it appears Jake Luton — a rookie sixth-round draft pick (just like Minshew was last season) — will get the starting nod. Do you feel like this is an even bigger advantage for the Texans to face an unproven rookie, or do you feel as if this is actually an advantage for the Jaguars, as Houston may not know how to prepare for somebody without any professional film, and why?

Jeremy: The NFL is far different than the Pac-12. The offensive line has failed to protect Gardner Minshew all year, so I can’t expect the same to happen for Luton.

3. Since Bill O’Brien was fired, have you seen any improvement from the Texans under Romeo Crennel? Any promising signs for the future?

Jeremy: Yes. Since they last played the Jaguars, they are 0-2, but one of those losses included an overtime loss to the Titans, easily the best game the team played all year.

The team took a step in the wrong direction against the Packers, but the Packers are easily the second-best team the Texans have faced behind the Chiefs and that was to be expected.

Everyone in the building is aware that the coaches in place are likely not coming back in 2021, so the team is trying to ride out the final months of the “O’Brien Era” and will look to start fresh next year with a new regime.

4. Last time these two teams played, Houston out-rushed Jacksonville 129 yards to 75 yards and was able to bottle up James Robinson (13 carries for 48 yards, 3.7 yards per carry). Still, both of these rush defenses rank toward the bottom of the league — Houston ranks 31st in yards per game allowed (165.9) and 27th in rushing defense DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. Jacksonville doesn’t fare much better, ranking 28th in rushing yards allowed per game (142.6) and coming in at 24th in rushing defense DVOA. Which defense do you think wins this matchup on the ground on Sunday?

Jeremy: I’d expect a lot more out of James Robinson this week with Luton starting his first game and the Jags coming off a bye. If Robinson is able to eat large gains, it will take a lot of pressure off Luton.

However, if Houston takes an early lead through the air, Jacksonville will abandon the run and that spells disaster for them.

5. Are there any particular players on Jacksonville’s offense or defense who worry you? On the other side of the coin, which player on Houston, outside of Deshaun Watson, do you think makes the biggest impact on Sunday?

Jeremy: In the first meeting between the teams, C.J. Henderson, Josh Allen and Myles Jack did not suit up for the Jags. I’m expecting a much stronger defensive effort especially coming off a bye.

In terms of the Texans, I’m expecting a big game out of linebacker Tyrell Adams. He’s had 31 tackles in the last three games since taking over for the injured Benardrick McKinney and had a career-high 12 tackles against the Jags in Week 5. He’s arguably been the best player on defense this season.

6. Score prediction?

Jeremy: Texans 23, Jaguars 14

Shout out to Jeremy for providing insights into the Texans, not once, but twice, this season. You can follow him and follow Battle Red Blog on Twitter.