The Texans travel to Jacksonville to begin AFC South Division play this weekend against rival Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars limp into this game with an 0-1 record after losing their first game in overtime to the Minnesota Vikings. Jacksonville opened the season with 10 players on the IR (injured reserve) list and didn’t even dress two of their top defensive starters last week in linebacker Daryl Smith and cornerback Derek Cox. Not to mention, three offensive linemen had to leave the game against the Vikings – Cameron Bradfield, Eben Britton and Uche Nwaneri were injured with Nwaneri being the only one to return to the game. Nwaneri is slotted to play this weekend despite purportedly still in a walking boot at Monday’s practice.
The Jaguars were so short of linemen in their game that the team appointed tight end Zach Potter as the emergency tackle if another linemen would have went down. It was a scramble, as stated after the game by Jaguars’ first year head coach Mike Mularkey – “We were scrambling with bodies. There was no question about that. A couple of those guys tried to play injured and you could tell they were playing injured.”
I tell you that to tell you this. The Texans should roll the Jaguars. The Texans have a better, more complete team. Although it is division play and anything can happen, the Jaguars’ team is just as bad, if not worse, than their Florida neighbors in Miami.
The Jaguars “dinked and dunked” their way down the field against the Vikings – sound familiar? The Phins’ and Tannehill tried the quick short passes to neutralize the pass rush and had it blow up in their face via “J.J. Swatt”.
The Texans to Watch Edition this week will take a little different angle. The obvious is to mention the offensive line and the running game, or the defensive line versus Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguar running game – or putting pressure on Gabbert to make mistakes in the passing game. However, I want to focus this edition of the watch on how Keshawn Martin and Trindon Holliday bounce back from a shaky start.
Martin was consistent and at times explosive during the pre-season and will be needed this year, but he dropped a pass early versus Miami – and didn’t see any targets for the rest of the game. Can the young player forget the drop and shaky start, and emerge as the player we saw in the preseason? I think it was just a case of nerves. He didn’t forget how to catch all of a sudden, so look for the Martin we saw in the preseason to show up against the Jaguars.
Trindon Holliday will also need to bounce back this game to regain his pre-season confidence. Just as Martin was a little anxious, so was Holliday. I believe he was trying too hard – trying to do too much and pressed, resulting in bad decisions and a muffed kickoff return. Can Holliday turn it around and be the threat he was in the pre-season? The Texans will need to win all three phases of the game to meet their expectations, and Holliday is a big part of that.
I suspect Holliday and Martin will get their chances this weekend. Of course, the Texans will stick to their bread and butter offense, so look for them to try to run the ball, setting up the play action bootleg. If that fails, as it did last week, look for Schaub to throw and throw some more. If that’s the case, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham and James Casey should be busy. A lot of “if’s” – that’s why they play the game.
Who are your Texans’ players to watch this week and why?