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

Matt GoldsteinContributor IIDecember 4, 2013

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01:  Case Keenum #7 of Houston Texans celebrates after running for a five yard touchdown in the third quarter during the game against the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, the Houston Texans experienced their most embarrassing loss of the season to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.

It was the game that put the Texans in last place in the league and also indicative of the miserable season the Texans have put together.

Now, in a season where the ultimate goal of reaching the Super Bowl is already long gone, this week's Thursday Night Football game offers the Texans a shot at redemptiona chance to not go quietly into the night, to prove that they are not the worst team in the league.

The formula for beating the Jaguars should not be difficult, as they possess debilitating weaknesses at many positions across the board. A team that has the talent the Texans do should not even struggle.

The Texans, however, have a maddening ability to play to the level of their opponent and they somehow manage to lose by a few points every single time. It's like clockwork.

The Texans do not need to get fancy against the Jaguars. They just need to stick to their identity and never, ever deviate from it. That alone should garner their first victory since the second week of the season.


Run, Run, Run

Despite the hype surrounding Case Keenum and the renaissance he has bestowed upon Andre Johnson, throwing the ball constantly is simply not Texans football.

In order for the Texans to experience any type of offensive success, they must pound the ball early and often and ride Ben Tate to victory.

There is no doubt that the Texans are a much better team when they focus primarily on beating up the other team in the trenches and running the ball regularly.

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 01:  Ben Tate #44 of the Houston Texans celebrates afte scoring on a 7 yard run in the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Reliant Stadium on December 1, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

There is no stronger evidence of this than comparing the Texans' running stats from their high-powered offensive thrill ride against the New England Patriots to their pathetically stagnant performance against the Jaguars.

Against the Patriots, the Texans consistently gave Tate the football, allowing him to carry it more than 20 times for over 100 yards.

Against the Jaguars, however, the Texans quickly abandoned the run and instead relied on a struggling Keenum. Unsurprisingly, they only managed to put up a measly six points.

If the Texans have any desire to avenge their loss to the Jaguars, they will most certainly come out running, as it will increase their offensive efficiency and protect their young quarterback.


Stack the Box

After the Texans' horrible home loss to the Jaguars two weeks ago, it would make sense to blame the oft-blamed Texans defense for the defeat. After all, what defense would allow its team to lose to one of the worst offenses in the NFL?

HOUSTON, TX- NOVEMBER 17: Darryl Sharpton #51 celebrates Shiloh Keo #31 of the Houston Texans defensive play against Rashad Jennings #27 of the Oakland Raiders on November 17, 2013 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. Raiders won 28 to 23.(Photo by Thoma
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

The Texans only gave up 13 points, though, and their defense succeeded in keeping the game close and giving the offense a chance to win it.

Where the Texans defense did fail, however, was in stopping Maurice Jones-Drew—the aging, oft-injured running back facing the decline of his career.

Jones-Drew single-handedly kept the Jaguars offense alive, scoring the team's only touchdown, breaking off a huge 44-yard run, setting his season high in rushing and averaging six yards per carry.

So, it would make sense for the Texans defense to devote all of its efforts to stopping the Jaguars' rushing attack this time around, correct? 

It certainly does, and it would be very surprising if the Texans defense does not consistently place an extra defender in the box throughout the game.

Houston has to trust its secondary to handle the Jaguars' receivers on its own, though, and that might be the only downfall to fully attempting to shut down Jones-Drew.