Jaguars vs. Texans: Breaking Down Jacksonville's Game Plan

Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2013

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10:  Maurice Jones-Drew #32 of the Jacksonville Jaguars rushes the ball against Jurrell Casey #99 of the Tennessee Titans at  LP Field on November 10, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars head into their Week 12 matchup with the Houston Texans looking to prove they aren't the worst team in the AFC South.

Taking on the 2-8 Texans, the Jaguars will have to implement a sound strategy on offense to give themselves a chance to win this football game.

 

Run the football

For starters, the best way to attack the Texans defense is on the ground.

After watching the Texans surrender 165 rushing yards and a touchdown last week to the Oakland Raiders, the Jaguars would be wise to take a page out of their playbook.

 

NFL Game Rewind

Pictured above is Raiders running back Rashad Jennings about to gash the Texans defense for an 80-yard touchdown run.

Coming out in the Wildcat formation, Houston knows right away that there's a good chance this is going to be some sort of running play.

The only question left becomes, which player is going to get the football?

Because of the fake fly sweep to wide receiver Jacoby Ford, the defense freezes and allows Jennings to attack the middle of the field.

 

NFL Game Rewind

Thanks to a series of fantastic blocks from his offensive linemen, Jennings knows right away that he has chance to make this defense pay.

 

NFL Game Rewind

With one man left to beat, Jennings lowers his shoulder and obliterates Houston safety D.J. Swearinger.

The result? Jennings puts the finishing touches on a massive 80-yard touchdown run.

It's plays like these that highlight a huge area of opportunity for the Jaguars in Week 12.

 

Nov 17, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne (7) hands off to running back Maurice Jones-Drew (32) in the first quarter of their game against the Arizona Cardinals at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TOD
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a closer look last week's film, it's easy to notice why the Texans had such major issues stopping the run.

Generating barely any push off the line of scrimmage, Oakland's offensive line was able to constantly dominate in the trenches.

If the Jaguars keep pounding away on Houston's struggling defense, running back Maurice Jones-Drew will be able to make his presence felt.

 

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27:  #84 Cecil Shorts III of the Jacksonville Jaguars evades #35 Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers during the NFL International Series game between San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on October 27,
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Create free releases for Cecil Shorts

After the Jacksonville's Week 11 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, wide receiver Cecil Shorts expressed his frustration with his lack of targets, per the Florida Times-Union's Ryan O'Halloran:

 

#Jaguars WR Cecil Shorts (two catches): "I'm not holding my tongue anymore ... " (con't)

— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) November 17, 2013

 

Shorts: "To have 1 target until 7 minutes left in the game, that's [bleeping] dumb. That's dumb, period." #Jaguars

— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) November 17, 2013

Shorts on if he'll go to Gus: "I have to say something and sit down with them because it's getting ridiculous in my opinion." #jaguars

— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) November 17, 2013

 

Asked if his problem is with the play-calling or trigger man, Shorts said: "I've said too much already." #Jaguars

— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) November 17, 2013

While wide receivers expressing their opinions isn't anything new, this just puts Jacksonville's offensive woes under even more of a microscope.

Regardless if Shorts was justified taking his complaints to the media or not, the Jaguars have to make sure they get their best wide receiver more involved in Week 12.

Without Patrick Peterson draped all over him, Shorts should be able to create enough separation to make things happen against a Texans team that just gave up three passing touchdowns to rookie quarterback Matt McGloin.

But what's the best way the Jaguars coaching staff can effectively work Shorts back into the offense?

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), the third-year wide receiver has done a lot of his damage this season after the catch.

Racking up 227 of his 629 yards receiving after the catch, Shorts has shown not only can he create separation, but good things usually happen whenever he gets the ball in his hands.

For the Jaguars to have any success through the air, they will have to come out in lots of tight formations that will help Shorts generate free releases off the line of scrimmage.

To get a better understanding of this concept, check out the example below:

 

Tight formations will create openings against this Houston defense.
Tight formations will create openings against this Houston defense.NFL Game Rewind

Using a bunch formation to develop spacing mismatches, Oakland wide receiver Rod Streater is able to create enough separation to get open in the end zone.

 

NFL Game Rewind

Confusing the Texans' secondary, quarterback Matt McGloin is able to hit Streater for an easy touchdown late in the first quarter.

With an offensive DVOA of -41.5% according to Football Outsiders, the Jaguars have to do something to spark their lethargic passing game.

Allowing Shorts to consistently get these types of free releases will give this team their best shot at moving the football on a Texans' secondary that's given up eight passing touchdowns in their last three games.

 

Nov 17, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley throws a challenge flag after a fumble on a punt return in the third quarter of their game against the Arizona Cardinals at EverBank Field. The Arizona Cardinals beat the Jac
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Conclusion

If the Jaguars are able to defeat the Texans this week, it's going to come down to the team's ability to manufacture points and remain focused throughout the game.

Whether we're talking about making sure Maurice Jones-Drew gets a healthy workload or giving their wide receivers chances to make plays, there's no reason why the Jaguars can't win this football game.

That's why even though the dream of having Teddy Bridgewater ride into town and save this franchise is wonderful, nothing feels better than beating a division rival in their own building.

 

*All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless noted otherwise.