When the Texans walk off the field in Jacksonville on Sunday, Gary Kubiak hopes to be walking off with a 49-49 record as Houston’s head coach. Needless to say, it will be the first time Kubiak will have a chance to pull even after what we will call “an extended rebuilding period.”
On paper this looks like a mismatch. When you then factor in Jacksonville’s injury problems, it looks like a HUGE mismatch. For me, it’s just too early to pick a big blowout in this game. It’s a divisional game, the Jaguars have a pretty good defense up front, and the Texans showed some weaknesses last week that at this point I don’t feel comfortable blaming on intangibles that will fix themselves.
What the Texans must do to win:
Simply stated, stop the run. With backup RB Rashad Jennings out for the game, the Jaguars are expected to rely heavily on Maurice Jones-Drew, who we all know is coming off a long holdout. The Jaguars are down at least one offensive lineman in RT Cameron Bradfield, and LG Eben Britton is questionable. After last week’s disappointing performance against the run, I’m concerned, but certainly not panicked. This week, if the Texans struggle against the run? Yeah, I’m officially going to jump from concern to worry.
It was widely reported in the preseason that Jags QB Blaine Gabbert LOOKED much improved from last year. Now, after one regular season game it’s being widely reported that he IS much improved. Okay, great. Let’s say he is… but what does that mean exactly? Abhorrent would be a KIND way to describe his ineptitude last season. This year he’s got more weapons, and played pretty well against a terrible Minnesota pass defense.
I’ll accept that Gabbert is better, but if the Texans stuff the run and are able to tee-off against Gabbert? I’ll gladly take my chances against him. Significant improvement would still put Gabbert a notch under below average.
What the Jaguars must do to win:
Get pressure on Matt Schaub. The Jaguars do not have a pass rush right now. Even if they are able to stop Arian Foster and the Houston run game, their secondary is weak. The Jags’ best secondary player right now is probably CB Derek Cox, and he’s questionable with a hamstring issue. Regardless of whether or not Cox is in the lineup, Matt Schaub should be able to exploit Jacksonville’s back half if the Texans are forced to – or choose to – rely on his arm.
Though it is a divisional opponent, and the Texans rarely if ever have an easy time in Jacksonville, I think they will pull away late after a fairly hard-fought game. I look for two things to get back on track for Houston – a more consistent pass rush, and their ability to stop the run. With Jacksonville’s average personnel on offense and their injury issues, the Texans need to put a boot on their throat early and get it done on the road.
Texans 27 Jaguars 13