Jaguars vs. Texans: 4 Keys to the Game for Jaguars

Vaughn JohnsonCorrespondent IINovember 21, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 09: Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the opening day against the Minnesota Vikings September 9, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Jaguars 26-23 in overtime. (Photo by Andy King/Getty Images)
Andy King/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars will go from a three-win team in Week 1, to one of the best teams in the league in Week 2.

And it's a team within the division.

The Jaguars will quickly have to put the overtime loss to Minnesota out of the memory bank because a tougher test lies ahead in the Houston Texans at 1 p.m. ET, Sunday in the home opener at EverBank Field.

The Texans are among the league's elite and will definitely pose a big challenge for the up-and-coming Jaguars. 

But this is a test the Jaguars do have a chance at passing. After all, it is a division game and division games in the NFL tend to be close because of the familiarity with each other.

If the Jaguars follow these five keys, they could pull off the biggest upset of the young season so far.


Use screens to counter the Houston pass rush

The Texans have one of the most talented defenses in the league today. What makes them so good is not the talent of certain individuals; it is the way they play team defense.

There's no keying on one guy to beat the defense. The entire defense is capable of making plays.

One major thing the Texans are good at is rushing the passer. With Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator, the Texans bring exotic schemes and blitzes that can confuse quarterbacks, especially young ones like Blaine Gabbert.

Instead of trying to go right at the pass rush, which would be a battle in futility, the Jaguars should try a few screens to running backs, wide receivers and even tight ends to counter the blitz and pressure.

The key to slowing down an aggressive defense is to keep them honest and make them play at your pace, not theirs.


Get wide receivers more involved

In order to defeat elite teams like Houston, you will have to take a few chances and open up the bag of tricks a little bit. 

Playing conservative will not get the job done.

That means getting the wide receivers, namely Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson, more involved.

Getting them more involved opens things up for Gabbert and the offense, and makes the Jags multidimensional.


Make the Texans one-dimensional

As much as the Jaguars want to make themselves multidimensional, they should do everything in their power to slow down the Houston running attack, to force Matt Schaub to beat them with the passing attack.

Now, I understand that part of that passing attack is throwing the ball to Andre Johnson, but the less the Jaguars' defense has to think about, the more aggressive they can be in getting after Schaub.

The Texans went from an average team to a great team within a season or two because they finally gained a legit rushing attack with Arian Foster along with Ben Tate.

Taking that away could make them just an average team again.


Finish the game

It's one thing for the Jaguars to show improvement by keeping games close, it's another to actually finish games and win.

The Jaguars went 5-11 one season, but a lot of those games were close right down until the end.

Now it's time for this team to learn how to win. That is easier said than done, but the Jaguars lost to Minnesota last week because the defense let the team down in the end, and the Vikings tied it up and took the lead in overtime. 

They also lost because the offense stalled and didn't get it done in overtime.

A win over Houston on Sunday would be a big statement to the rest of the league and undoubtedly a confidence builder moving forward.

In order for that to happen, the Jags have to learn how to finish games.


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