Jaguars Get Embarrassed Overseas, Drop Pivotal London Game 26–3 to Texans
There was magic on the field in Sunday’s pivotal AFC South clash between the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5) and Houston Texans (6-3) but unfortunately for the Jaguars, it was not Minshew Magic. Instead, it was Deshaun Watson who stole the show.
Watson dominated Jacksonville with his legs and his arm en route to a blowout 26-3 Texans victory at Wembley Stadium in London. Play after play, he made Jacksonville defenders look silly while the Texans had their way with Jacksonville’s defense.
He evaded numerous would-be sacks and at times looked half Houdini, half NFL quarterback. No matter what Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash threw at him, he made them pay. He finished the game 22-of-28 passing for 201 yards and two touchdowns, but he looked even better than the numbers showed.
The Jaguars, who only notched one sack vs. an offensive line that was missing Laremy Tunsil, also got gashed vs. the run. Duke Johnson took a stretch run into the end zone from one-yard out as he trucked cornerback Tre Herndon on his way to the end zone and Carlos Hyde had two runs over 45 yards.
The Texans ultimately ran for a staggering 216 yards, wearing down a porous Jaguars defense. Carlo Hyde led the way, tearing the Jaguars up for 160 yards on only 19 carries.
On the flip side, the Jaguars’ offense struggled mightily from the first snap of the game to the final one. With Watson stealing the magic for the day, Gardner Minshew II looked merely average for most of the day until he completely melted down in the final quarter. He finished his day 27-of-47 for 309 yards, along with two interceptions and two fumbles.
Too many times Minshew sailed a pass high or missed his reads and failed to find the open receiver vs. a banged-up Houston secondary. He made a few of the electric plays we have been used to seeing from him, such as a 31-yard pass to rookie running back Ryquell Armstead on an early third down, but ultimately the Texans had him figured out.
Each of Minshew’s turnovers was due to really poor ball security, with three of the turnovers coming on three consecutive plays in the fourth quarter. He sailed two passes that resulted in interceptions, caught by Jahleel Addae and Justin Reid, and then fumbled on a scramble. He also fumbled on the game’s final play to end each of his four possessions with a turnover.
Minshew did not get much help from the running game with Jaguars running back Leonard Fourrnete totaling only 40 rushing yards on 11 carries. The Jaguars abandoned the run early due to the score, despite it only being 9-3 at halftime, but they simply didn’t run it well when they went to it.
Fournette did a nice job of breaking tackles early, but a Texans defense missing J.J. Watt still won the battles up front. And Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo really did not do much of anything to make things easier for his offense, calling an uber-conservative game vs. a defense missing several key contributors.
The Jaguars offense only mustering three points against one of the lowest-ranked pass and red-zone defenses is putrid, and so was their 4/11 performance on third downs. The offense also left points on the field but turning it over on downs in the fourth quarter after Chris Conley dropped a pass at the Texans’ five-yard line, while a botched snap and hold prevented a field goal in the third quarter.
Minshew and the offense’s poor day in London will certainly open the door to more speculation about Nick Foles returning to the starting lineup. Head coach Doug Marrone has a decision to make after Minshew went 4-4 as a starter in Foles’ place, but it seems likely the veteran will start in Week 11.
For the Jaguars, they will enter their bye week with a 4-5 record and staring upward at the rest of the AFC South. They have two straight AFC South divisional games after their Week 10 bye (at Indianapolis, at Tennesee) and each game is a must-win at this point.