Jaguars vs. Texans: 10 Keys to the Game for Houston
Should be a nail-biter.
The Texans coaching staff and players will take this game as seriously as they did the Chicago Bears game last week, and this is absolutely necessary.
In order to ensure that the Texans will achieve the easy victory that they should, here are the 10 keys to the game that they must achieve.
Rush the Passer
The Jaguars has an offensive line that is less reliable than the chances the Jaguars have of making the Super Bowl this season. Furthermore, their quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, consistently folds under oncoming pressure.
What's the formula to victory in this situation? That's right, you got it. Blitz, blitz, blitz.
Against an average receiving core who has a quarterback that negates their average abilities, the Texans can afford to blitz an extra pass-rusher.
Scratch that, they can afford to bring even more pressure on a constant basis. That's just how bad the Jaguars are against the blitz.
If the Texans can get to Gabbert from the get-go, then this game will be over as soon as it starts.
Control the Clock
The last time the Texans played the Jaguars, the Texans controlled the clock for 43 out of 60 minutes in the game.
That nearly never happens. In fact, the Texans set a franchise record for that mark, and it is unlikely that we will see them surpass it anytime soon.
If the Texans, however, can come anywhere close to matching that mark this game, then they should coast to an easy victory. It's pretty difficult for an opposing team to score when they only have the ball on offense for 17 total minutes.
The Texans have the steady running game that is necessary to allow them to control time of possession, and their defense is terrific at preventing opposing offenses from converting third downs.
All this contributes to an easy winning formula for the Texans.
As mentioned before, it is quite likely that the Texans will be bringing the heat in their pass rush this game. This means that cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson will likely be left out on islands.
In order for the Texans' pass rush to be truly unstoppable, the Texans' defensive backs must maintain excellent coverage throughout the game.
Last season, this could have been a major issue with the questionable play of Kareem Jackson. It is quite likely that he would have blown several easy coverages.
The Kareem Jackson of this season, however, is so improved that the Texans can afford to leave him matched up one-on-one with opposing teams' number two receivers.
That bodes very well for the Texans' defense.
Establish an Early Lead
Against an upset-minded team like the Jaguars, there is absolutely no reason to allow them even a sliver of hope.
For teams desperate to pull off a win against a superior opponent, hope is often their best weapon. The Texans need to take whatever hope the Jaguars have and crush it under their cleats like ants under a boot.
Score early and score often.
The Texans need to prove to the Jaguars that they have zero shot of even coming close to beating them, and they should do this early in the game.
Why allow the Jaguars to hang around? Put quick points up and ride Arian Foster and the rest of the running back core to victory.
Make No Mistakes
The best way of giving the Jaguars a chance to win is by making mistakes.
If the Texans were to turnover the ball unnecessarily or get called for stupid, yet extremely damaging, penalties, then I might be analyzing this game on Sunday afternoon in a much less confident mood.
While I absolutely hate Gary Kubiak's philosophy of running draw plays on 3rd-and-long, that might be the best strategy this game. There is no reason to throw a pick and give the Jaguars a solid chance of scoring.
Also, in the Packers game, the Texans got called for three penalties that extended a Green Bay drive and allowed them to score a touchdown. Yeah, none of that this game, please.
The Texans, essentially, need to play clean football, and never allow the Jaguars to get into the game.
If one critique can be made about the Texans' incredibly stellar football team, it is their special teams. More specifically, their special teams' coverage on punt and kick returns.
The Texans have already given up two return touchdowns this season, and countless times they have allowed big returns which set up opposing offenses with excellent field position.
Although the Texans' coverage unit did have an amazing performance against the dangerous Devin Hester, they still have not proved themselves to be consistent.
Like with turning the ball over, a return touchdown can swing momentum into the favor of the Jaguars. There is no reason to let that happen. Just contain the returner.
The Texans are a Super Bowl contender, and right now it appears that they are the likely favorites to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
A key injury can severely hinder those hopes.
In their low-profile matchup against the Jaguars, the Texans should come away with an easy victory. Therefore, the Texans must take even minor injuries extremely seriously this game. If Arian Foster starts to limp a little, but insists he can still play, the coaching staff must take him out to rest for several plays.
There is no reason to lose a player like Arian Foster to something so trivial as sitting out a few plays against an opponent who has consistently proven that they are quite easy to defeat.
Get Arian Foster out of the Game
Arian Foster is on track to carry the ball 392 time this season. If that does not frighten you as a Texans' fan, then you're just crazy.
Foster is so critical to the Texans' offensive production, and it would be a major blow if he were to become so banged up by season's end that he could not effectively produce when the Texans' will need him the most: in the playoffs.
The Texans need to find a way to limit the amount of carries that Arian Foster is currently getting, and there's no better place to start than against the Jaguars.
Hopefully, if this game plays out the way it should in the eyes of Texans' fans, then it will be over by halftime or the third quarter.
While I am not saying this is going to happen, there is a strong possibility of it. And if were to happen like that, then there would be no reason at all to keep Foster in the game.
Get him on the bench and let Justin Forsett go out there and have some fun.
Don't Think Past the Game
Whenever great NFL teams are matched up against inferior ones, the words "trap game" always seem to appear.
The feared "trap game" is not a farce, and they sometimes do plague the best in the NFL. Sometimes superior teams tend to overlook a matchup against a team which is considered to be an easy victory.
Just look at what happened to the Packers against the Chiefs last season.
While the belief that amazing teams might experience letdowns against lesser ones is certainly true, it likely is not for the Texans.
The Texans' players and coaching staff make a point of taking each game as seriously as the last. If the Texans lose this game, it will most probably not be because they overlooked the Jaguars. It will be because the Jaguars outplayed them.
However, it's better to be safe than sorry, so the Texans should never even think once about the upcoming Detroit game.
Don't Allow a Rushing Touchdown
Here's a fun fact. The Texans' defense has not let up a single rushing touchdown yet this season.
All offseason long, critics, and sometimes I did too, asserted their opinion that the Texans were extremely weak in the middle of their defense. According to them, any team that could effectively run the ball would be able to give the Texans a run for their money.
Well, it is pretty clear that they, and I, could not have been farther from the truth.
Here's to keeping the streak alive, and not letting Rashad Jennings be the first player to break it.