Texans vs. Jaguars Take Two: A Tale of Two AFC South Cities
Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
Stop me if you've heard this one.
After a second look, the the picture gets no brighter for the Jaguars.
This game was a good, old-fashioned "our guys are better than your guys" butt-whipping.
Yes, that's a technical term.
Houston ran a conservative game plan, rarely looking deep and just physically dominating the Jaguars defensive line.
When the Jaguars had the ball, Houston clamped down on any pass play. They gave up some inconsequential runs to Maurice Jones-Drew, who was the lone bright spot for Jacksonville, but the rest of the offense was bombed back to the stone age.
The storyline is simple: Houston is much, much better than Jacksonville.
Ben Tate and Arian Foster were spectacular for the Texans. Foster put up bigger numbers, but Tate was even more impressive visually. There is no doubt that the Texans have the best running backs in football.
Tate was athletic and savage in his running and made the Jaguars look like they were standing still.
Also high on the hero watch is the Houston secondary. Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson blanked the Jaguars. Blaine Gabbert was under a rush sometimes, but there were plays where he had time to throw.
He just never had anyone open.
Guy Whimper was bad.
Does that need more explanation?
He's a backup guard at best, but has been moved all around by the Jaguars because of injuries. He's outmatched wherever they stick him.
Gabbert was also terrible. I mention him only because as bad as he looked, he still didn't look as lost as he did in 2011. His main problem was a lack of accuracy on throws to the few open men he did have.
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Justin Blackmon was targeted four times with no catches. For a guy who allegedly doesn't need to get open deep, but can find big plays on short passes, Blackmon hasn't generated much of anything.
In two games, Blackmon was targeted 10 times with just three catches. That's goat-worthy.
After scoring to start the second half, the Jaguars were within 10 points. A defensive stop would have put the Jaguars back in the game.
On 3rd-and-7 from the Houston 23, Matt Schaub fired incomplete to bring up fourth down.
The Jaguars were about to get back in the game.
Unfortunately, Andre Branch had jumped offsides.
Given new life on 3rd-and-2, Foster picked up the first down. At the time, there was nearly 11 minutes left to play in the third quarter.
By the time Jacksonville saw the ball again, there was just 2:22 to play in the quarter, and they were down 17 points.
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Mike Mularkey punted on the opening drive of the game facing 4th-and-3 from the Houston 44. The colossally cowardly punt represented the last time that half Jacksonville would cross midfield.
When a team is outclassed in talent, they have to work harder to take chances to stay in the game.
Conversely, the Texans had the superior force and were smart to call a simple game plan. They kept the ball on the ground and threw plenty of short, easy-to-complete passes.
The only chance for them to lose the game would be on turnovers, so they didn't ask Schaub to do anything but check down to tight ends and running backs.
Keep an Eye On
Gabbert's health is obviously a major concern. He may have been terrible in Week 2, but Chad Henne is not likely to elevate the offense. The Jaguars can't afford any further reduction in offensive effectiveness.
To date, there's no word on the seriousness of his leg injury.
Houston will have to be wary of being overconfident. They have a major test against Denver next week, and they undoubtedly know that there are much better teams in the NFL than Miami and Jacksonville.
At some point they'll need their wideouts to make plays, and it will be interesting to watch what happens when they do.
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