Texans at Jaguars Week 2 Review: What We Learned
As expected, the Houston Texans marched into muggy Jacksonville on Sunday and easily disposed of the shorthanded Jaguars, 27-7.
Houston had the ground game going all day long, as they rushed for a grand total of 216 yards on a whopping 48 carries. The Jaguars were never able to develop any rhythm on offense, and it didn’t help that the Texans weren’t really letting them have the football. Houston dominated time of possession, holding the ball for over 43 of the game’s 60 minutes.
Here’s what we learned from the first of two Texans-Jags showdowns:
1. If You Get Into a Hole, the Texans Will Bury You
Houston led this game 10-0 after the first quarter, and 17-0 at the half. At that point, the game was already all but over. The Texans’ defense absolutely suffocated Blaine Gabbert and Maurice Jones-Drew, and didn’t allow Jacksonville to convert a single third down (0-9). The Jaguars’ rookie punter, Bryan Anger, had as busy an afternoon as anybody, as he had to punt nine times. As mentioned above, the Texans controlled the pace of the game, and essentially used the second half to salt the game away using the running backs (Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Justin Forsett) almost exclusively on offense. After a slow start on the ground in week one against the Dolphins (83 rushing yards), the Texans looked like every bit of the rushing attack that ranked No. 2 in the NFL in 2011.
2. That’s the Blaine Gabbert We All Know and Hate
After an impressive performance in the narrow OT loss to the Vikings in week one (23-39, 260 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT), Jacksonville’s second-year QB reverted to his old, awful rookie ways against Houston. Before leaving the game with apparent toe and hamstring injuries, Blaine Gabbert went 7-19 for just 53 yards with a touchdown and no picks. He looked skittish and uncomfortable, likely due in no small part to the fact that he was getting a faceful of J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed all day long. Gabbert didn’t ever really look downfield, as Justin Blackmon, Laurent Robinson and Marcedes Lewis combined for three catches for 49 yards. Robinson had all three of the catches, and one of those (for 11 yards) came from backup Chad Henne, who came into the game in the fourth after Gabbert left with his injuries. To be fair, the Texans’ defense makes plenty of quarterbacks look bad, and Jacksonville was missing two starters on the offensive line. However, this latest effort from Gabbert has to be of plenty of concern to the Jaguars. A net total of negative-four passing yards in a game is not something that should happen in the NFL. Ever.
3. J.J. Watt is a Monster
Honestly, this isn’t really something we just learned this past Sunday. This has been building up for a while. Watt was at the forefront of Houston’s defensive dominance in this game, picking up five tackles, 1.5 sacks, a fumble recovery and two batted passes. The five tackles was a team-high. Sound like a low number? That’s because it is. The Texans’ defense was hardly ever on the field in this game, as they forced the Jaguars into punt-after-punt. Jacksonville had only one possession last longer than four plays. Watt’s effort comes on the heels of another stellar game last week against Miami, in which he had another 1.5 sacks with three batted passes at the line of scrimmage. As you may recall, J.J. “Swat”, as he is now affectionately known, got his hands up and intercepted a pass from Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton last January during Houston’s playoff win over the Bengals. He returned it for a touchdown just prior to halftime; a play that completely changed the complexity of the game and turned the tide in Houston’s favor. 3-4 defensive ends, like Watt, are typically tasked with occupying enough space and attention from offensive linemen to clear-the-way for playmaking outside linebackers. Instead, Watt does the playmaking himself.