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