What to Watch For: Jaguars, Gameday Edition
Patrick D. Starr
The Houston Texans are taking the field in the annual "Battle Red" day at Reliant, against their divisional opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are 2-5 overall, and coming off a stunning Monday night win versus the Baltimore Ravens.
The Texans are in rare air having the chance to go 3-0 in the AFC South for the first time in team history, and take real control of the division. The Jaguars are bringing a top-10 defense into Reliant, but the 32nd ranked offense in the NFL. The Jaguars always bring their "A" game when they play the Texans, so expect nothing less on Sunday on what could finish the Jaguars season early.
Here are a few things to watch on Sunday.
1. The "Pot Roast" as they call him, Terrance Knighton, defensive tackle, tips the scales at 336 pounds and provides a force in the middle for the Jaguars defense. He is a good player and provides a nice one-two punch along side Tyson Alualu and could cause some issues in the Texans run game. Knighton came out and said he does not like the Texans arrogance, and he is going to do something about it. Expect this to be an interesting sub-plot to an important game in the division.
2. Troy Nolan gets his first important start of his career for the injured Danieal Manning. Nolan might not be tested in the pass game, but he will be needed in the run defense providing support against Maurice Jones-Drew. Nolan needs to make plays, but most importantly be a sure tackler when needed. Missed tackles in the secondary usually lead to big plays, and the Texans have avoided big plays so far in the 2011 season.
3. The Jaguars added new pieces on the defense in linebacker Paul Posluszny (Buffalo), safety Dawan Landy (Ravens), linebacker Clint Session (Colts) and cornerback Drew Coleman (Jets). These additions have made the Jaguars a new defense and complete one at that. With Daryl Smith (LB) and Rashean Mathis (CB) on the field too, the Texans offense needs to make a statement against this top 10 defense.
4. The Texans have a well-rounded team and can make life miserable for the Jaguars if they can get their offense off of the field early and often. Despite a great defense that the Jaguars have they only have 2-5 record to show for it. The Texans can use all three phases of their game to win the game, but the Texans have to take care of the ball to make this happen.
5. With two good corners in Mathis and Coleman, the Texans are going to have to use Owen Daniels, Derrick Mason out of the slot, Arian Foster and James Casey to attack the middle of the defense. Expect Matt Schaub to look for them early in the game and spread the ball around to loosen up the Jaguars defense out of the box from defending the run. The Texans have to go to the air to let the Jaguars know they are going to throw the ball.
6. The offensive line has the chance to take over another game and prove they are one of the best in the NFL. The run game helps the passing game and when the Texans are on full throttle no one can stop them. The Texans want Schaub to throw the ball around 25 times a game, but the ability to get Foster and Ben Tate rolling could prove huge by the end of the game.
7. The Texans need to put the heat on rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert is only completing 48.3% of his passes, which only proves he is not comfortable throwing the ball. With Maurice Jones-Drew the only form of offense for the Jaguars, stopping Drew could prove huge with Gabbert's rookie struggles. Gabbert throwing the ball is what the Texans want and that will give Antonio Smith, Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed, J.J. Watt and company chances for some big hits on Gabbert.